El Cortez Trocadero
239 West Second Street
est. 1934

Eric Cook
Grade 3


Chris Krauss
Grade 3


Laurence Miller
Grade 3


Louie Eliopoulos
Grade 3
El Cortez Trocadero
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection

The El Cortez Hotel was located at 239 West Second Street and licensed intermittently since October 1934.

Construction began on the El Cortez Hotel in 193030, and the grand opening of the six-story, sixty-room hotel took place on March 21, 1931, and featured the orchestra of Charles Kaley. The hotel was built and owned by Abe Zetooney, a native of Syria, who came to Reno shortly after World War I. In 1931 Zetooney leased the hotel to the Bulasky brothers, Joseph, Solomon, and Louis.

The first gaming license at the El Cortez was granted to W. H. Rutledge in 1934. In January 1936 W. W. Miller was licensed for gaming at the El Cortez and remained on the license until 1940.

The El Cortz proved to be a profitable venture, and in 1941 an extensive remodeling and expansion project was completed. There was now a total of 114 rooms and a new entertainment center known as the Trocadero. The "Troc", as it soon became known, was opened with Lee Herzoff and his orchestra appearing in what was advertised as "one of the most modern and beautiful nightclubs and cocktail rooms on the Pacific Coast". Charles Rennie and Jack Greer were in charge of the lounge. The adjacent gaming room, under the direction of George Hagenson, had two roulette tables, one craps table, and seventeen slot machines.

In the middle and late 1940s, R. J. Miller managed the El Cortez and the Trocadero nightclub and was licensed for roulette, 21, and a craps game.

During World War II, many nationally known entertainers appeared at the El Cortez. In January 1944, Sophie Tucker, billed as "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas", appeared at the El Cortez. During her engagement she also appeared at the Bank Club and the Club Fortune as part of a war-bond drive. Other famous performers who appeared at the Trocadero in the 1940s were Chico Marx, Victor Borge, Rubinoff and his violin, and Donald Novis.

In February 1966 the Alta Corporation, headed by John Cavanaugh Sr. and including John Cavanaugh Jr., William Thornton, and E. T. Redman, purchased the lease on the El Cortz from the Bulasky brothers' Nathan Realty Company, which had operated the hotel since 1931. The Alta Corporation operated the El Cortz until December 30, 1966, when it closed the property and returned physical custody of the hotel to the trustees for the property owners, the Zetooney family and its heirs.

In 1972 Bill Fong, formerly of the New China Club, opened a bar and a Chinese restaurant at the El Cortz. The Bally Distributing Company was licensed to operate slot machines in the bar and restaurant area (there have been no table games in the El Cortez since 1948). Fong operated the restaurant and bar until his death in 1982.

The El Cortez is still open for business at its original location.

According to Dwayne Kling