Charlie and Karen Abowd to retire, sell Café at Adele’s as restaurant celebrates 40th anniversary |

Charlie and Karen Abowd to retire, sell Café at Adele’s as restaurant celebrates 40th anniversary

Charlie and Karen Abowd talk on Monday about their decision to sell Cafe at Adele's.
Jim Grant | Nevada Appeal

Café at Adele’s 40th anniversary is going to be bittersweet for its owners and patrons.

The Carson City restaurant established by Paul and Adele Abowd in 1978 and long operated by their son and daughter-in-law, Charlie and Karen Abowd, has a lot to celebrate.

From a devoted staff, some who have worked at the restaurant for three decades, to being the favorite haunt of governors, legislators, and lobbyists, to Charlie Abowd’s 2005 dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, which will be recreated this fall as part of the year-long celebration.

“That was a crowning achievement, like the Academy Awards,” said Charlie Abowd on Monday.

But the anniversary also may mark the Abowds retirement. And in order to do that, the couple has put the restaurant — the building and its decor, not the name or the menu — up for sale.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that since no one in the family is involved it wouldn’t be Adele’s if there wasn’t an Abowd attached to it,” said Charlie Abowd.

The property at 1112 N. Carson St. is listed for $1.2 million and Andie Wilson, NAI Alliance Carson City, and Brad Bottoset, The Liberty Group of Nevada, are handling the sale.

The couple said they’ll wait to find the right buyer, which for them is an experienced restauranteur who will value the contribution made by the café’s 26 employees as well as its long history.

“We’re selling a legacy and we take that very seriously,” said Charlie Abowd.

Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, once a lobbyist at the Nevada Legislature, agrees.

“Adele’s has been an iconic landmark and restaurant in our community for almost as long as I can remember. During legislative sessions it is a favorite hangout for lobbyists and their clients as well as legislators who are looking for a comfortable place to unwind and eat some tremendous food,” said Crowell. “Indeed, many would say that if one wanted to know what was really happening in the legislative arena, a stop at Adele’s would be almost de rigueur. Needless to say, it is also a year-round favorite for locals and worldwide travelers alike. I wish Charlie and Karen fair winds and following seas as they let go of what has been a large part of their lives.”

The change won’t end the couple’s involvement in other projects, including the Greenhouse Project and putting on the Harvest Dinner that supports it.

Charlie Abowd started working in the business at the age of 10, when he helped his father in a restaurant the Abowds owned in California.

“I stuffed bell peppers,” said Abowd. “I loved the work but my dad always said ‘This should not be your future.’”

The elder Abowds moved to Carson City in 1977 and bought the Victorian house built in 1864 that once housed the Music Box and would soon become Adele’s.

Charlie and Karen lived in Seattle, but eventually moved to Carson City to help out in the family business.

“My first task was fashioning the wine list,” said Charlie Abowd.

“You bartended, too. I waited tables,” said Karen Abowd.

Over the years, they added a veranda for outdoor eating, ADA-compliant bathrooms, and lots of Victorian decor.

Once the restaurant is sold, the Abowds plan to spend more time with their grandchildren and children, and travel the world.

“I want to be part of the set up and break down of Burning Man,” said Charlie Abowd.

He said half jokingly that he may keep his hand in the food business.

“You may find me with a hot dog stand outside the legislature when it’s in session,” said Charlie Abowd.

The restaurant will mark its anniversary year with specials and events to be announced later.

Café at Adele’s is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until close, serving breakfast, lunch, mid-day cuisine, dinner, desserts and a full bar.