Ordering up a meal fit for a skier | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ordering up a meal fit for a skier

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily TribuneMark Reilley of Eagle Painting applies paint Monday to Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill.

Two-time Olympian Jonna Mendes, 23, will be featured on more than walls of ski slopes in a month.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill plans to open near Stateline March 24, with a glory wall of the longtime South Lake Tahoe fixture. She won the bronze medal three weeks ago at the World Alpine Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The Kansas City-based restaurant chain selects a local sports hero to display in each of its 1,400 locations.

Mendes was chosen for her skiing ability, local ties and community outreach — having the heart of a champion. She’s on the road in Europe and therefore unavailable for comment.

“Having the bronze medal is quite a feather in her cap,” said Heavenly Ski Foundation Race Director Noel Dufty, who has traveled with Mendes extensively. He’s unsure whether the champion has eaten at the restaurant, but he has. “I think it will be good to feature her on the wall.”

Creating the wall of a local hero serves to distinguish one restaurant from another.

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Tahoe’s location serves in another capacity. The corporation plans to use the 6,000-square-foot site as a prototype for future locations. It has an Alpine-style motif, different wallpaper, oak accents and more space.

“This one has considerably more space. It’s way different. It uses twice as much wallpaper,” said Kirby Ratterman of Harrison Drywall in Chico.

Ratterman, who has installed the drywall for locations in San Rafael, San Mateo, Napa and Sacramento, was putting the finishing touches on the building Monday.

He was joined by a painter, plumber, phone company employee and other construction workers scrambling to complete the job in less than two weeks.

The furniture in the dining room and the kitchen are set up and ready to serve up to 195 diners inside the restaurant. An outside patio may accommodate 20 more people.

“It’s coming along,” said Applebee’s Construction Manager Steve Herman, who has managed the building of 15 sites.

The company had planned on opening by the start of the new year, but it experienced construction delays.

Half of the anticipated 80 employees have been hired for the location, which is situated where a Texaco filling station once stood.

Restaurant Manager Frank Lamaina of the Carson Valley has come on board with the company, which has locations in eight countries. It trades its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol APPB.

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