Face-lift for landmark business in Markleeville
MARKLEEVILLE — Tucked inside tiny crevices, an interior construction crew remodeling the old Cutthroat Saloon have made what amounts to archeological discoveries.
A Duke’s Cameo cigarette pack from 1886, a 1903 Sacramento Bee, square nails, 2-foot-wide boards and, strangely enough, five layers of wallpaper.
But gone are the hundreds of bras that covered the ceiling of a bar known to attract motorcycle riders.
In July, Minden investor and builder Tom Abdoo bought the Markleeville landmark — built in Silver City in 1864 as the Fisk Hotel and relocated to the Alpine County seat as the Hot Springs Hotel. Mario and Marilyn Generelli sold the bar and restaurant for about $340,000, the Alpine County Assessor’s Office reported.
His crew of 15 workers — including bartender Ronnee Duncker — have been on the fast track of getting the new Wolf Creek Bar & Restaurant prepared to open by the end of the month. A sign with the Cutthroat name will mark the landmark.
The $500,000 job hasn’t been easy.
Workers gutted the 2,500-square-foot floor, installing bathrooms compliant to the American Disabilities Act. This included tearing up six layers of formica and adding accents.
An antique mantle was set up at the bar, which was remodeled with a rosewood finish. Barn wood brought in from Montana line the walls of the restaurant, estimated to seat 80 people.
“We’re trying to keep the historical feel of the building,” said Ken Smith, Abdoo’s assistant, who once ran the Edible Earth restaurant in Gardnerville.
A mix of small-square tile and hard wood will cover the bar floor where the old jukebox remains. The hard wood will continue into the restaurant with carpet on half the floor.
Two unusable pot-belly stoves remain for show, and two working gas fireplaces flank the restaurant behind the bar. This is where chef Patrick Henry will cook up homecooking planned for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A patio in back of the building will host barbecues, and the restaurant may book live entertainment.
Abdoo hopes to employ about 30 people.
The Generellis leased the restaurant when they owned it.
“We want to make the place more family-oriented. We feel that’s where the business is. My wife and I used to come down to this area all the time and go to Grover Hot Springs to get away,” Abdoo said. “(Mario) appealed to bikers. That worked for him. I’m not sure it worked well for the community. But right or wrong, it was just a perception problem.”
Abdoo said it was “simple math” that piqued his interest in the rebuilding challenge. More than 650,000 people drive through the area each year, according to state figures.
“We’ve had absolute support from the community with the exception of a few people who are resistant to change,” Abdoo said.
Upstairs, seven rooms once used in the Hot Springs Hotel are uninhabitable as living spaces, according to the Alpine County Building Department. But Abdoo wants to rent them out to artists, who may, in turn, show their work downstairs.
That might not be all that’s presented for show.
Abdoo is toying with the idea of hanging historical pictures, setting up a memorabilia showcase and hosting events to either auction the bras or burn them during a ceremony.
Many people have drifted into the bar under construction out of curiosity. Abdoo recalled one woman who was angry she couldn’t find the bra she said she hanged from the ceiling.
Such is the color of the building’s past.
Alpine County Museum Director Dick Edwards remembers the heyday of the oldest building in town. He wants to maintain the name of the hotel that ran out of the second floor.
It’s the bar’s notorious reputation for attracting parties that he thinks the town could do without.
“People were afraid to park here. I’m happy (Abdoo’s) doing something there. I would just like to see the name stay the same,” he said.
The name changed from the Hot Springs Hotel in 1900 to the Alpine House, which gave way to the Alpine Hotel.
Abdoo also plans to open the Alpine Inn building next door and renaming it the Creekside Lodge in two months. He bought the place for about $155,000 in June.
“This place is going to change,” he said of the corner.
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