The end of The Beginning: Restaurant owners sell to Taco Bell
TRUCKEE – For Joe and Pat Wood, the last week of their 26 years running The Beginning steakhouse comes with bittersweetness.
In a cleared out restaurant dining room, the couple rehashed the memories that will begin to fade when the business that doubled as their home is demolished to accommodate a Taco Bell restaurant.
“It’s going to be funny to see this old building go. It’s kind of a landmark,” said Joe Wood, of his two-story restaurant tucked behind the Donner Gate Chevron on Deerfield Drive.
But the recollections turn to relief when the couple speaks about the conclusion of two years of negotiations with Taco Bell. Those dealings ended in October when the franchise owner’s plans were approved by the Truckee Planning Commission. Joe Wood said the location in a largely commercial cluster will be perfect for fast food.
The Woods’ “semi-retirement” that began when they sold off their Bay Area flower shops to purchase The Beginning in 1978 will finally turn to full retirement 26 years later. It all started with a conversation over dinner at The Beginning during a Wood family vacation to Truckee. The owners said they wanted to sell the restaurant, and two weeks later the Woods became proprietors rather than patrons.
“It had a good reputation for good food, so we continued the same name,” said Joe Wood.
Over the years the restaurant built upon its loyal clientele base. It became the type of place where diners were known by their first names and orders were seldom placed because each person’s favorite dishes were already known.
Williams started going to The Beginning when she moved to Truckee in 1987, and marked many family celebrations at the restaurant. The grilled lamb chops with mint jelly, and fried shrimp and fillet mignon were some of the notable menu items at the diner. But the friendly atmosphere was what made the place truly special, she said.
“They called us by name when we came in,” said Williams. “They watched our son grow up.”
The restaurant held wedding ceremonies, anniversaries and many birthday celebrations over the years. And it was traditional for patrons to leave a business card tacked to the wall when they left. As the Woods packed to leave the place, they filled three cardboard boxes with the business cards they had collected over the years.
One of the most unusual patrons they ever had left the eatery in sheriff’s handcuffs, charged with bank robbery, said Pat Wood. But before he was hauled to jail, he reached into his car and paid his bill from a sizable stack of money in the back seat of his vehicle.
“He got money to pay for dinner. I don’t know if it was robbery money or not,” said Pat Wood.