Goodbye to Grand Lake Showroom |

Goodbye to Grand Lake Showroom

Sally J. Taylor

By the end of the week, Horizon Casino Resort’s Grand Lake Showroom will be a memory. By the end of the year, so will the old Wallace Theaters.

A public auction will be held on Thursday, beginning at 11 a.m. Everything in the showroom from tables to memorabilia will be auctioned to the highest bidder.

“It will be emptied out,” said Howard Reinhardt, Horizon’s vice president and general manager.

Afterward, Wallace Theaters will begin recreating the space into a luxury, eight-screen theater complex to replace the old Lakeside Theatre at the “Y” and Stateline Cinema on Park Avenue. The new theater is expected to open before Labor Day.

The Grand Lake Showroom originally opened as the High Sierra Theatre in 1965 in what was then the Sahara Tahoe Hotel and Casino. Such entertainers as Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdinck, Nancy Sinatra, Pearl Bailey, Merle Haggard and The Carpenters played on its stage in the entertainment heydays of the 60s into the 80s.

Stadium concerts that garner entertainers tens of thousands of dollars in a single performance helped undermine the value of the small showroom.

With the showroom standing empty much of the time, Reinhardt considers the change a positive move.

“I think the theater is a real plus that will be open to the public everyday,” he said.

The theater plan was originally announced early last fall with an opening expected before the end of the year. However, architectural drawings and the approval process took more time than expected. In the interim, Horizon upper management changed, with Reinhardt coming on board in December.

Once the new theater opens, the two remaining South Lake Tahoe Wallace Theaters will close.

Scott Wallace, owner of the corporation with 150 theaters in several Western states and Pacific islands, won’t be sorry to see the theaters go.

“It’s taken us eight years to build a new theater,” he said.

Wallace joked that the demolition of the current, decaying structures would be cause for celebration.

Wallace Theaters purchased the three South Lake Tahoe theaters, already showing their age, in 1991. Besides the Lakeside and Stateline theaters, the company also owned the Tahoe Cinema in the South Y Center, which closed last year to make room for an expansion of the Raley’s Supermarket.

The Stateline Theater will be demolished as part of the Park Avenue Redevelopment project, which is expected to break ground in May, 2000 and will include another eight-plex theater by an, as yet, unannounced company.

Just what will happen to the Lakeside Theater could not be confirmed by press time.

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