A bit of old Tahoe comes alive | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A bit of old Tahoe comes alive

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneKen Caple, son of the original Cecil, stands with John and Camilla Jovicich at the site of the new Cecil's Fountain Plaza.

When Ken Caple looks at the latest structure going up at Park Avenue, he sees more than South Lake Tahoe redevelopment. He sees a legacy his father, Cecil, left behind.

After returning to Tahoe from Arizona State University, the 55-year-old native has worked through a roller coaster of emotions near Stateline. One of two sons, he witnessed the historic general store that was built in 1940 by his late father demolished 60 years later.

“It was pretty sad. It had been there for so long,” he said while touring the grounds Thursday with the John and Camilla Jovicich of Gardnerville. They’ve owned the property since 1965.

Caple and the Jovicichs hadn’t met each other before this week, but the trio has something extraordinary in common. They all lived above the market in the small apartments and have a special appreciation for progress and nostalgia.

Since his father sold the business when he was a young boy, Caple has a faint memory of the store’s atmosphere. He did recall hearing later how his father was forced to close the store in the early 1940s when he was deployed in the Army during World War II.

In the dozen years the Caples ran the business, Jean Caple, who now lives in San Diego, ran the post office inside the store.

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Cecil’s Market is due to reopen in July with the same name.

“That tickled mom (when she found out),” Ken Caple said.

In turn, the Jovicichs were tickled to share stories with Caple and see old photographs that Caple brought of his parents’ old establishment. They plan to display them in the front of the acre-large building near the corner where the city plans to set up a fountain.

“There’ll be seating out there,” John Jovicich said, pointing toward Highway 50 from the back of the structure.

The Jovicichs –the fifth owners — have hired The Brewery owner Russell Penn to run the market, which will return with a delicatessen and groceries. They’re leasing space to Penn for a brewery, along with Alpine Clothing, Body Essentials and 1000 Bathing Suits. Other businesses are expected to be named later.

Penn traveled to Florida just to find the right kitchen equipment.

“We’re lucky to have local people with the knowledge and the skill. (Penn’s) going to do some innovative things,” John Jovicich said.

The two-story market that was once a haven for South Shore residents and Bay Area tourists will double in size to about 24,000-square-feet and expand another floor. It moved from where Quizno’s Subs is situated to the eastern side of the sprawling hotel and retail complex.

The store set for the ground floor will feature the high-beam ceilings characteristic of Tahoe architecture.

A tree standing next to the structure was replaced by a stoplight, and nothing surrounded the market. The threesome agreed the tree would be dwarfed by today’s tall pines.

“If I had to turn back the clock, I would. But we had to change to compete to get the tourists. Tahoe got tired,” he said of the push for redevelopment. Caple nodded. He realized how Tahoe businesses struggle to survive because his father would tell stories of the ebb and flow of the shoulder and high-traffic seasons.

“Even back when my dad had it, we always had tourists in the summer. But after Labor Day, there was nothing,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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