Restaurant/bar owner to open mysterious floor safe — contents will go to holder of winning raffle ticket |

Restaurant/bar owner to open mysterious floor safe — contents will go to holder of winning raffle ticket

Karl Horeis, Appeal staff writer

He’s not sure what’s inside it, but Cabin in the Sky owner Mark Hoffman is excited to open the floor safe apparently left by the previous owner, brothel baron Joe Conforte.

“Who knows what’s in there?” he said. “It could be a million dollars — it could be nothing. I just hope there’s not a finger or somebody’s ear.”

The safe, cemented into the floor, will be opened during a party Aug. 30 around 7 p.m.

Hoffman suspects the safe was left by brothel baron Joe Conforte who ran the infamous Mustang Ranch outside of Reno. The brothel, two Sparks houses and the restaurant in Gold Canyon were seized by the federal government to help pay $13 million in back taxes he owed. Conforte fled the country and is thought to be living in Rio de Janero, Brazil.

Hoffman bought the 3,100 square-foot restaurant from the Internal Revenue Service for $88,000 in December. At the time he didn’t know who Joe Conforte is.

“People came up to me and were like, do you know what you just bought?”

During remodeling he found the rusty, round safe under old linoleum in a back bathroom.

“There’s an apartment that’s part of the building,” he said. “I’m living there now.”

Instead of opening the safe he started selling raffle tickets.

“Whoever has the winning ticket will get whatever’s inside,” he said.

He said all money raised will go toward a rafting trip for underprivileged youth.

“So far we’ve raised about $2,000.”

An attempted burglary makes it clear to Hoffman that somebody wants what’s in the safe. He had covered it with new plywood flooring and linoleum when someone broke in the back door. They cut a square hole in the floor over the safe before the alarm went off and they fled.

The safe still sits in the floor under that hole — the combination for the dial is lost to time.

“Conforte’s own fingers turned that dial,” Hoffman said. “You can bet on it.”

Hoffman said the alarm company hired to secure the business has offered to open the safe.

“They’re going to have to cut it or drill it out.”

The safe-opening party will start with a brunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Dinner will run from 3-9 p.m.

“There’s going to be live music and the whole bit,” he said.

His cook, Wayne Keksi, will offer the Cabin’s specialties: salmon cooked in a parchment paper bag with herbs and the “Senor Frog” shrimp marinated in Jose Quervo and Roses’ lime juice and grilled on a skewer.

Keksi also bakes fresh rolls everyday.

“We’re Finnish,” said his wife, Mary. “Our name is pronounced like sexy.”

They also offer prime rib, a huge rib eye and Ensendada prawns.

“We’re looking to cater to special events, too,” Hoffman said.


What: Party to open safe apparently left by brothel boss Joe Conforte

Where: The Cabin in the Sky Restaurant and Bar at 2207 Main St. in Gold Hill

When: Brunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner from 3-9 p.m. safe opened at 7 p.m. Aug. 30.

Call: 847-0226