Out with the old, in with quality | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Out with the old, in with quality

Gregory Crofton
Russ Irwin

Ernie’s Coffee Shop has a look and design recognized last week as the best commercial rebuild in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Alpine feel and quality of the project is something the owner and its builder say they would like to see more of at South Shore.

“The goal was to create a building with the feeling of being in the mountains – to give it an Alpine look,” said Paul Bruso, owner of the coffee shop. “And when people come in it’s very inviting and much bigger inside than you’d imagine.”

The coffee shop moved into the new building from its previous location across the street in December 2003.

Russ Irwin, a builder in the basin for 25 years, got the project done for Bruso in six months. Bruso said Irwin had to start two weeks later than he planned and still finished the project on time.

“It’s a treat for me to see some quality projects going up in the basin,” Irwin, 51, of Zephyr Heights, said. “To see some of the older buildings coming down and some new, quality buildings being put up in their place.”

The key to the success of the project was all the planning that Irwin did before construction began.

“He handled everything so calmly and he was extremely organized,” Bruso said. “One anecdote … a company came in to install kitchen equipment and put stainless steel on the wall, but did it without locating the electrical boxes underneath it.

“Russ had a set of photos he took before the wall was covered and located the outlets. It became a very small problem, but it could have been a big problem.”

Keith Klein, an architect based in South Lake Tahoe, designed the building with a lot of input from Bruso and his wife, Judy.

John Fellow, owner of Aspen Hollow, did the landscaping and made the sign that hangs outside the restaurant. GB Engineering, owned by Dave Galicia, designed the drainage around the building.

“We put a big grease/sand interceptor in the ground,” Bruso said. “Any water or snow melt that gets off the property and goes into the water of the lake is going to be purified, and not have any detrimental effect on the lake. And that’s what the TRPA is after.”

Ernie’s Coffee Shop received the agency’s “Best in the Basin” award from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency last week. The agency is charged with regulating growth in the basin while protecting water quality.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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