The Tavern
1801 West Fourth Street
1932 - 1941
The Tavern
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection

To the best of our knowledge, no casino ashtrays were ever created for the Tavern. If you happen to know where one exists, please consider sharing a photo of it with the collecting community.

The Tavern at 1801 West Fourth Street was built in the 1920's and meeting with various success under numerous managements and under such names as the Log Cabin and Hutton's Hut, The Tavern was remodeled and tentatively scheduled to open on October 31, 1932. The worst financial blow ever suffered in the state occurred on October 29, 1932, when every bank in the state-except three-closed their doors as a general consequence of the depression. Under these circumstances, The Tavern did not open as planned. However, on December 8, The Tavern, "Reno's Smartest Night Club," did open its doors with dining, dancing, entertainment, and gaming.

The original owners of The Tavern were George Coppersmith, George King, George Nelson, and Jack Clark. The general manager was Fay Baker, and working in the casino as floor men and managers were Howdy Sullivan, Ed Rich Terry Terrano, and Ed Ward.

The Tavern featured The Tavern Music Makers for its patrons and dancing and listening pleasure. Heading up the restaurant was Chef Jean Sigg, formerly of the Willows and The Club Cal-Neva at Lake Tahoe. The club gained national attentions for the fine cuisine and lavish appointments. Famous entertainers such as Lionel Hampton and Nick Stuart appeared at The Tavern, and nightly radio broadcasts originated there. In fact, The Tavern constructed it's own broadcast control room to eliminate the difficulties of remote broadcasting. The first worldwide broadcast from Nevada originated from The Tavern in 1935.

In 1937 there was a shake-up in the management of The Tavern when Ed Rich took control of the gaming and Fay Baker left to become part owner of the Town House in downtown Reno.

Starting in 1938, the fortunes of The Tavern took a turn for the worse. Within less than two years, The Tavern was operated by Barney Newman and Herman Landres, then by Ernie Crofton, and finally by James Carey and Morrie Treiber. Eventually it was taken over by creditors, and in November of 1939 all the assets of The Tavern, including six roulette tables, several slot machines, and various other gaming tables were sold at auction.

On November 20, 1939, Victor Portopilo and his wife announced that they would reopen The Tavern on Thanksgiving Day. Jean Sigg was to return as the executive chef and once again The Tavern would feature fine dining, entertainment, and gaming.

The Tavern prospered until May 4 1941, when a devastating fire did $100,000 worth of damage. The building and most of the contents were completely destroyed. The property never again operated as a night club. Instead, Portopilo and his partner Brownie Paretti, opened the El Tavern Auto Court and Coffee Shop at the former location of The Tavern.

In January 1947, the El Tavern was purchased by Harry Bond and William Parker., who operated slot machines at the site for a short time but had no table games. In June 1954 the El Tavern Auto Court was sold by Bond and Parker to Charles Moore Jr. and C.C. Payne for an amount "in excess of $500,000. The site is currently occupied by the El Tavern Motel.

According to Dwayne Kling