Restaurant roundup: Carson City IHOP closing; Mark Estee to open Cucina Lupo in October

Lori Baxter and her son Jesse Baxter own and operate Bella Vita in the Carson Mall, which is now open for lunch Monday through Saturday and until 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Lori Baxter and her son Jesse Baxter own and operate Bella Vita in the Carson Mall, which is now open for lunch Monday through Saturday and until 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

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Restaurants come and go and that holds true for Carson City’s thriving dining scene.

The latest closure is IHOP on South Carson Street. The breakfast place known for its pancakes is serving through Sunday and closing its doors forever on Monday.

The Carson City location is also known as the site where a gunman shot and killed four people and injured seven others on Sept. 6, 2011. At that time, the franchise closed for three months, and now reportedly plans are to demolish the building and build a bank in its place.

The IHOP has no immediate plans to relocate in Carson City, but the national chain has a location in South Lake Tahoe and three in Reno.

IHOP’s ending follows several other recent shutterings.

Also closing this weekend is The Martin Hotel, the second location of the iconic Winnemucca Basque restaurant, which closes its doors after it serves dinner on Sunday.

The restaurant opened around Nevada Day last year in the then new mixed-used building at 308 Curry St.

“I am personally backing away from working these many hours,” John Arant, the restaurant’s owner told the Nevada Appeal in September. “I have a son, a daughter, and three grandchildren and they’re spread all over the country.”

The space won’t be vacant for long. Mark Estee and his partners in Reno Local Food Group plan to immediately move in, do some remodeling, and open Cucina Lupo by Nevada Day weekend.

“At Cucina Lupo we will focus on modern Italian cuisine and sprinkle in some of the Spanish, Basque and Mediterranean influences from that same area of the globe,” said Nicholas Meyer, one of the partners in the business. “Small plates, sharable starters, soups and salads will start out the menu. A heavy dose of different types, and styles of pasta followed by local beef and lamb braises and lighter-style entrees will round out the menu. Classic dessert with seasonal favorites will end the meal well with old world coffee and apertifs and cordials.”

The group also operates The Union on Carson Street, just across Curry Street from its new restaurant, and Overland Restaurant & Pub in Gardnerville.

Saffron on Carson Street closed its doors in September. The restaurant served kabobs and other Mediterranean staples such as hummus, grape leaves, and baklava, all of it seasoned with saffron, and featured a juice bar. The eatery, which opened in May 2018, was located in the same spot as the once popular Sylvana’s restaurant.

The Basil, downtown’s Thai restaurant, also closed last month. New owners are redoing the space and, according to a sign posted at the Carson Street location, will re-open soon.

Carson City’s newest restaurant is The Poké Beach on Highway 50 East in the Starbucks mall off State Street. The restaurant serves poké, a Hawaiian dish featuring seafood and add-ons such as other protein, sauces, toppings and rice that customers pick and choose from like a salad bar.

“When were in Hawaii it’s all I ate,” said Josh Bainton, owner. “It is very healthy.”

The Poké Beach is Bainton’s first restaurant, although he grew up in the seafood restaurant business in Oregon, he said.

Bainton is innovating the takeout side of the business. He is working on adding the ChowNow app so customers can order and pay online and their food will be ready in a refrigerator when they arrive so there will be no waiting in line.

The restaurant at 1442 E. William St., is open Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Two other local icons are expanding. The owners of Red’s Old 395 Grill on Carson Street are working on a new restaurant in Fernley. They are currently renovating the building formerly occupied by Bully’s Sports Bar & Grill on U.S. Highway 95A South. The restaurant’s opening date, name and menu are not yet known. The owners also own the Little Waldorf Saloon near the University of Nevada, Reno, and Red’s Golden Eagle Grill in Sparks.

And The Lady Tamales on Woodside Drive is opening a second location on Oct. 1. The new spot is 770 Highway 50 in Dayton, across the road from the Gold Ranch Casino.

Bella Vita in the Carson Mall is undergoing a few changes. The restaurant closed briefly in April. Owner Lori Baxter had lined up a buyer for the restaurant and was going to build a commercial kitchen to focus on catering and food delivery. The plans changed when the deal to open the kitchen fell apart.

“Somehow I did an amazingly effective job of telling everyone I was closing and I thought I had done an effective job telling them I was open again, but I am asked four or five times a day ‘My gosh, are you guys open again?’” said Baxter.

Bella Vita has been open for lunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, for more than five months and now is extending those hours to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Wednesday is Ladies’ Night, Thursday is Guys’ Night and Friday is Music Night. The menu after 4 p.m. includes Chicken Chardonnay pasta, the Ooey Gooey Burger, and a daily pasta special.

Baxter also operates Bella Vita in the Carson Tahoe Care Center near the old hospital on Mountain Street, which serves breakfast items, cold sandwiches, paninis, soup, and is open to the public. The business also continues to cater and do farmers markets where it sells its homemade potato chips and dips.

Still in flux is Café at Adele’s, the Carson City landmark at the corner of Carson and John streets. The restaurant has been closed since March after a fire broke out in the laundry area. The owners, Karen and Charlie Abowd, continue to work with their insurance provider to come to an agreement on the cost of construction, which is estimated at $1.5 million, according to Karel Ancona, a spokesperson for the business.


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