Meet Carson City Joe’s Team: back row, from left: Cook Rocky, server Jordan Meshberger, server Alicia Lorca, partner and nephew Bill Griggs. Seated: Owners Bonnie and Joe France.
Who opens a restaurant during the height of the pandemic? Meet Bonnie and Joe France who optimistically opened Carson City Joe’s on Jan. 1, even though there was no end in sight yet as to when restaurants could offer more than take-out service.
As a restaurateur all his life, Joe has experienced the ups and down of being a restaurant owner, so this challenge didn’t faze him much. Bonnie, too, had owned her own restaurant in Oregon and has been on the same journey with Joe who owned several restaurants in different states. Area locals may remember the couple as the owners of the Gold Canyon Steak House in Old Town Dayton for 17 years before they sold it around 2004.
Carson City Joe’s is Joe’s 17th restaurant, previously owning Virginia City Joe’s located beside the famous Bucket of Blood. When he lost his lease, he opened Joe’s All American in Mound House, which he sold in November 2020. Since he was now without a restaurant, Joe decided Carson City would welcome the down-home fare for which Joe’s became famous.
Not only did the couple choose a trying time in which to open their doors, they chose a location that is a bit of a challenge. Locals will remember the restaurant in this odd location once housed Sylvana’s, a popular Italian restaurant that was more of a destination than an impulse stop.
At 1301 N. Carson Street, you can easily drive by this seemingly half-underground building. However, once you find Joe’s, you’ll stop in often for good old-fashioned food that will have you coming back again and again. Joe is presently deciding what to do to make the building more noticeable with better signage. There is handicapped access off the parking lot and the backdoor.
Comfort food is the key to many a stomach. The menu is short featuring popular dishes at a reasonable price, so making a decision is easy. The most popular dish is the Icelandic cod fish and chips featuring enough fish to take a doggie bag home to enjoy yet again. Burgers of all kinds are the second most popular item. We asked about the Mark Twain Burger since there’s not a restaurant in Carson City recognizing the importance of Twain to our history. But, that’s another story for another time.
Joe’s casual menu features 10 types of burgers. Like the man himself, the Mark Twain Burger is bigger than life. You’ll get a ½-pound of fresh beef hand prepared to your liking topped with Swiss cheese (just like Twain’s stories that were full of holes), lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles served with lots of fresh fries or homemade macaroni salad.
For those who prefer sandwiches, there are 14 varieties including pastrami on rye, tuna or patty melt, and the always popular French dip with grilled onions and Swiss cheese. For those who love salads and count calories, there are six choices. The homemade chicken strips are almost as popular at the fish and chips.
As you can see upon entering the dining room, Bonnie is meticulous about cleanliness. Joe states she “runs the place with an iron fist.” The floors are polished to a high sheen as are the chairs and tables. The maroon walls are freshly painted displaying interesting photos. Bonnie spent a year looking for the perfect tables and chairs to create the homey atmosphere. It wasn’t an easy task to find this many matching chairs. We’d call the furniture style homey early American. The high-back chairs are comfortable and there’s plenty of elbow room on the round tables. When seated at the big table that comfortably seats six or eight or maybe ten, you get the feeling you are in someone’s large kitchen.
Joe didn’t know July is National Ice Cream Month. His newest menu items this month feature some treats that never go out of style: milk shakes, root beer floats in 22 or 32 ounce portions, old-fashioned ice cream sundaes, and waffle cone ice cream. You can just stop by any time to satisfy your ice cream craving or top off your great meal with an ice cream treat. No fancy flavors – just vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Simple, like the rest of the menu.
Now that Joe’s has expanded to include ice cream treats, he is welcoming birthday parties or parties of any type. You can book the entire restaurant. With Christmas not far away, this would be a great place for an intimate holiday party.
Yes, there’s a nice bar filled with all sorts of bottles of all kinds of libations along with beer and wine. As you enter the restaurant, this cozy bar could be a welcome place to meet friends after work – if there were a bartender. Joe and Bonnie are experiencing the same challenge facing most restaurants and businesses — lack of workforce — although both are proud of the current staff and rely on two special servers, Alicia and Jordan. Bonnie, too, fills in as necessary and is currently training a new cook. And, just in case you were wondering, you can order a cocktail with your meal.
When Joe is in “residence,” you can see his eyes focusing on every plate coming out of the kitchen making certain the food is prepared to his standards. His simple mantra is “buy local ingredients to serve great quality food; keep the restaurant clean; offer great service.”
Once reliable staff can be found, Joe and Bonnie hope to be able to serve lunch and dinner seven days a week. Right now, Joe’s is closed on Sunday’s and Monday’s as are many of our local restaurants.
Stop by Joe’s for a fine all-American meal or call ahead for pick-up or delivery between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call 775-350-7415.