Rookies sports bar in Incline for sale; Legacy to be passed on

Miranda Jacobson

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — It was announced in late February that after 29 years Rookies Sports Bar and Grill is being sold.

The spot, which opened in 1993, has served not only as a place to get a great bite or enjoy a beer after work, but as a pillar in the Incline Village community.

Rookies Sports Bar and Grill is to be sold after serving the Incline Village community for almost 30 years.
Miranda Jacobson/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Rookies, Inc. was founded by Serge Rigisich and John “J.B.” Brennan, who both have unfortunately passed away, and now, current president Shelly Rigisich is ready to pass on the legacy of Rookies.

The company is currently negotiating with prospective buyers, and Rigisich explained that many people interested are local members of the community. Her, along with the bartender at Rookies of 14 years, Eazy Hernandez, hope that whoever acquires the restaurant will continue to make it home.

“Hopefully for the next 30 years, they’ll offer the same kind of community relationships and fun times,” said Rigisich.

Hernandez worked side by side with Serge Rigisich when he began at Rookies, and was able to not only experience the joy of working with someone who enjoyed giving back to the community, but create a place that anyone can call home.

Rookies, which is located in the Raley’s parking lot in Incline Village, not only serves food and drinks, but offers as a second home for members in the community.
Miranda Jacobson/Tahoe Daily Tribune

“It’s not just a restaurant,” said Hernandez. “It’s a staple in this community.”

Prior to his passing, Serge Rigisich was someone who was heavily involved in his community, making donations to schools with meals, participating in community events, and always giving people a place to go when they had no where else.

“He moved here and got really involved,” said Hernandez. “He took care of everybody that came in and worked for him and he would take care of us and treat us like family. There was such a sense of community from the people here in Rookies. I think about every year at Thanksgiving when they did a Thanksgiving dinner, and anybody that didn’t have somewhere to go, this is where they came and they were provided a Thanksgiving dinner and they were like family.”

Hernandez explained that prior to his passing, Serge Rigisich would participate and donate to events dedicated to education, like the Haunted Hallway event put on by Sierra Nevada University and the Incline Village General Improvement District, Toys for Tots, and donating to crab feeds.

“It was really about wanting everybody that wanted to go to school to get an education and get behind it one hundred percent,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez explained that Serge cared about the people in the community, even if he didn’t know them, and would consistently donate to people’s medical bills and GoFund Me’s when they were going through tough spots. Hernandez recalled a friend of his who was struck by a vehicle, who Serge donated to after hearing of the accident.

“So it’s just not big places that he recognized donating to like schools or animal foundations, but it’s spent towards single people in the community to try to help them out. Everybody goes through rough spots and accidents happen,” said Hernandez. “Everybody has those rainy days and Rookies has always been that umbrella, keeping the rain out of your eyes.”

When Rookies stayed open 24 hours a day, Hernandez explained that coming to work was never a bother to him, since it was a place that he enjoyed so much.

“It just feels right in the heart,” said Hernandez. “It’s not work when you love your job.”

Hernandez is determined to carry on the legacy of his former boss and friend. During the Caldor Fire, Hernandez took the initiative to cook meals and donate them to the first responders.

“By himself, in the beginning, he cooked 120 meals,” said Shelly. “And then the community came out and they started donating money and food. We got passes so that we could go through the blockade to get down to the fire, and for two weeks, that all we did; make meals for them.”

Now that Rookies is for sale, Shelly and Hernandez are hoping that whoever comes next will be able to carry on the legacy that Rookies left. Currently, the re-executed lease for the property has almost nine remaining years of the term, with two additional five-year options, which would enable Rookies to stay in its current location until 2040.

Hernandez is hopeful for the future, given how impactful Rookies has been in the small community.

Hernandez said, “There’s no story that goes on in Incline Village without mentioning, ‘And then we went to Rookies’ or ‘We left for Rookies’ in any story.”

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