Bonanza Club
207 North Center Street
1944 to 1952
Bonanza Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection




Mark Englebretson
Grade 3

Louie Eliopoulos
Grade 3



The Bonanza Club was at 207 North Center Street and was licensed from April 1944 to 1951 for craps, 21, roulette, and slots.

The Bonanza Club, formerly the Barn, was opened in 1944 by Wilbur Clark, who later gained fame as the proprietor of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. It was considered by many to be the most beautiful club in Nevada. Decorated by Tom Douglas, designer of Ciro's and La Rue's, both famous Hollywood nightclubs, the bar had a Gay-Nineties motif. The ceiling was supported by eight-foot-tall plaster-of-Paris damsels, buxom and completely nude. They were a startling feature of the club. (One of them is on display in the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.) The Bonanza was also famous for its spectacular paintings.

In February 1945 the Bonanza was licensed by John Wilds for three 21 games, two roulette games, and one craps game. The property was owned by Larry Tripp, Thomas Hull, and Eunice Lewis. Before the year was out, Tom Hull sold his interest to Larry Tripp, Lou Wertheimer, Al Gersten, H. E. Calloway, and Myron Beck. Al Gersten was named manager of the club.

In its early days, the Bonanza was famous for its food, but in March 1945 the dining room was changed into a cocktail lounge, and dinners and lunches were discontinued for the duration of the war. In October 1945 the Bonanza reopened its dining room and hired Jackson (Jack McCarg) to entertain at the piano bar. Considered by Bill Harrah to be one of the top customer draws of the early 1940s, Jackson appeared both in the dining room and in the lounge.

In May 1946 the Bonanza closed temporarily for alterations but reopened on May 25th with "Sundown" Wells as manager and featuring great entertainment, a casino, and a large dinner menu.

In August 1947 Wertheimer, Tripp, H. E. Calloway, Gersten, and Beck sold the Bonanza. Mervyn Rosenthal, former manager of the club, later sued the partners for a percentage of the sale. He claimed that he had been told that if the club sold for over $75,000 he would recieve 25 percent of the excess.

The new owners of the Bonanza were Andre Simetys and Ad Tolen. They went out of business in the summer of 1950, and the state filed suit against them for $479 in unemployment compensation. Later they, along with the previous owners, were sued by various wholesale establishments in Reno for many unpaid bills. As late as 1952 the case was not yet settled, and Tripp, Gersten, Calloway, and Beck sued Andre Simetys for $5,503. Simetys, who was food and beverage manager, was supposed to be solely responsible for all food and beverage bills, and they had never been paid.

In March 1951 a gaming license was granted to the S&K Corporation, doing business as the Bonanza Club. The two partners were William Sullivan and Dan Killbride of Bozeman, Montana. In April 1951 the Bonanza was licensed for forty slots, one 21 game, one craps game, and one roulette game. Also added to the license were two more partners, Jack Sparkman and N. B. Ellis. Cap Ellis was named casino manager.

In August 1951 the Bonanza was renamed the Frisco Club, and "Black Line" Joe Snyder was named manager.

The S&K Corporation continued to operate the Bonanza/Frisco Club until 1952. The business was sold to Harrah's Club in 1952 and was opened as Harrah's Bingo in 1953.

The former location of the Bonanza Club is now part of Harrah's Club, on the west side of Center Street betweetn Second Street and Douglas Alley.

According to Dwayne Kling



Bonanza Club
From the Mark Englebretson Collection