Markleeville businesses open but suffering

Kurt Hildebrand / Record Courier
Stores and restaurants are open in downtown Markleeville.
Kurt Hildebrand/Record Courier

MARKLEEVILLE, Calif. — A couple of old-timers were sitting at the bar in J Marklee Toll Station when a woman walked in and asked if they had food.

They were out of onion rings, but they could get her a burger.

Down the street, at the Cutthroat a small group of Alpine County residents were enjoying the limited menu.

Owner Rachel Radach said it seemed half the people in Gardnerville had heard what happened and the other half were calling for reservations.

Faith Saletti, formerly of Minden Saletti’s, brought bags of cut up vegetables and Italian sausage into the restaurant. The Salettis were digging out the Stonefly restaurant.

Out on Main Street resident Lou Ames was talking to two tourists from Holland who didn’t understand why the sign at Highway 395 said that Highway 89 was closed at Highway 4.

It clearly wasn’t, which is why what people arrived were there.

While business was slow on Saturday, there were a few visitors in the historic Alpine County town that basically survives based on summer tourist traffic. This will be the third summer in a row that the town’s busiest season is cut short. In 2020, it was the coronavirus outbreak, in 2021, the Tamarack Fire and now last week’s flooding event.

The Markleeville General Store was open on Saturday.

Owner DeAnne Jang urged residents to patronize the businesses in town.

“We’ve been suffering the death of a thousand cuts,” she said. “We were struggling before we had this flood. My business was down 50 percent. You’ve got to support the town and the businesses. It’s time to start looking at your downtown as an asset. We put money in the coffers of this county.”

She said that efforts to encourage people to come to town to spend money were welcome, but that one of the issues for the town is having sufficient supplies.

“Having a business in Alpine County is really difficult,” she said at a Saturday morning Town Hall. “We have to do above and beyond what a normal business would do and we have to pay a lot more than a normal business would pay. We just ask that you guys support us as much as possible.”

A swift water rescue team helped the town economy by staying the night on Friday.

Radach said that she will remain open, but it would be good for customers to be patient.

With the road shut down for the next month, at least, businesses will need all the support they can get, but getting workers and supplies 90 miles over Monitor Pass to Gardnerville and back is a challenge.

Radach said she welcomed customers, but until Highway 89 opens again, she was cautious about encouraging people to come.

“Maybe after the road opens back up,” she said.

At the Town Hall, Radach asked if there was some sort of program that could help businesses survive yet another disaster.

“This is an emergency and a huge economic one,” she said.

Alpine County officials are conducting an emergency meeting 9 a.m. Wednesday and said they will bring a recommendation to allocate some funding for businesses and individuals, but it would help to have numbers for losses.

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