Waldorf Club
142 North Virginia Street
1931 to 1956

Mike Klackle
Grade 2

Pam Goertler
Grade 2
Waldorf Club
Photo from the Allan Myers Collection
  Waldorf Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
  Waldorf Club
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection

The Waldorf Club was opened by Walter Preston in 1910. In 1929 Preston and his partner, Charles Brenda, moved the Waldorf next door to 142 North Virginia Street. In April 1931 the Waldorf was licensed for 5 slot machines and over the next few months various table games were added. Through the years and various owners, the Waldorf was licensed for nearly every gambling game played in Reno.

Robert Preston died in December 1932. Because his widow, Mildred Preston, inherited his share of the Waldorf, she became the first female casino owner in Northern Nevada. Mildred Preston and Charles Brenda operated the Waldorf until they sold it to Joseph and Soloman Bulasky in 1938. The Bulaskys owned the business but leased out the casino to Jake and George Hagenson.

In October 1939 the Waldorf was sold to Arthur Nelson and Glen Whiddett. Jake and George Hagenson continued to operate the casino. Besides the casino, the Waldorf featured a smoke shop, a sandwich bar with its famous Coca-Cola soft drinks, and a barber shop. The Waldorf’s building was owned by Charles Richards, but Nelson and Whiddett operated the business for the next ten years.

On October 1, 1948, the Waldorf was sold to Warren Nelson and Howard Farris. At the time of the sale the business was licensed for one pan game, one roulette game and one 21 game. Nelson and Farris operated the Waldorf until April 1, 1949. At that time Farris left the partnership. Nick Abelman took over 75 percent of the business and Warren Nelson retained 25 percent.

The Abelman-Nelson partnership never worked well, and it wasn’t long until Warren Nelson left the Waldorf. In January 1950 Abelman was licensed for one roulette game, one 21 game, and six slot machines.

In September 1951 Harold and Anna Walters and Roy Nelson were licensed for gaming at the Waldorf. Originally, Nick Abelman was supposed to divest himself of any interest in the Waldorf but this did not happen. The new partnership licensed the club for 25 slot machines, one craps game, and one roulette game.

In November 1951 the Waldorf was licensed by three new shareholders: Roy Black, I.L. Lawlor, and Bernie Ivener. The following were listed as corporate officers; Harold Walters, president, Anna Walters, vice president, and Roy Nelson, secretary-treasurer. The grand opening of “Reno’s oldest and newest landmark” was held on November 28, 1951. Harold Walters announced that Reno’s famous chef Jean Sigg would over see the restaurant, Frenchy DuPuoy would be bar manager, and Eddie Starr and Rommele would be featured at the piano bar.

Nick Abelman died on December 15, 1951, and in March, Abelman’s widow, June –representing Abelman’s estate-and Al Bisignano were licensed as new partners. During the next four years there were several changes in the Waldorf’s Gaming license. First, Roy Nelson, sold his percentage to Harold Walters in 1952. Then in 1953 Phyliss Matthews, Al Vario, Mark Yori Jr., and Peter Amante were added to the license. Al Vario was deleted from the license in late 1953. In July 1954 James Hammond was licensed as a partner in the Waldorf, and the club was licensed for 15 slots, two 21 games, and a roulette game. Changes were also made to management, as Andre Simetys was named chef and John Sanford became manager of the club.

On July 7, 1956, the state cited the Waldorf for improper operation of a 21 game. The Waldorf’s president, Harold Walters, denied the charges, but on July 31, 1956, the Gaming Control Board recommended that the Waldorf have its gaming and slot licenses revoked. The next day the Gaming Commission concurred. The listed owners at the time of the recommendation were Harold and Anna Walters, J.R. Lawlor, June Abelman (representing the estate of Nick Abelman), James Hammond and Edward Thomas.

On August 4 the Waldorf obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the state from closing it down until the state supreme court ruled on the closure. But before the state supreme court heard the case, the Waldorf closed on its own accord. On November 29, 1956, after the graveyard shift, the doors were closed and 55 employees were put out of work. Business had went steadily downhill since July when the state took legal action to close the clubs gaming. President Walters stated that “He regretted closing, but business doesn’t warrant staying open.” The casino was operating two 21 games, twenty slots, a bar, and a restaurant at the time of closing.

In March 1957 James Hammond was licensed for twenty slots. However, the club was soon sold again, this time to John Nash, who in turn leased it to Eddie Andary. Andary reopened the club on March 12, 1958 as Andary’s, a dinner house that did not have gaming. Glen Rolfson entertained at the organ.

Andary’s soon went out of business, and the property was closed until Leon Nightengale and Frank Harris opened it in 1959. Nightengale and Harris sold the property to Jack and Georgis Young in June 1959. The Youngs, along with John Edgecomb, operated the Waldorf as a bar and restaurant without gaming. They were famous for their prime rib dinners, and the place was a late-night hangout for many musicians and casino workers in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Jack Joseph, a local disk jockey played records and hosted entertainment and local personalities until the wee hours of the morning.

The Youngs sold the property to the Club Cal-Neva in 1979. The doors of the Waldorf closed for the last time on July 28, 1979. The site is now part of the Club Cal-Neva.

According to Dwayne Kling