1955 – 1960
Photo from the Bill Judge Collection
Lake Tahoe’s Crystal Bay and its casinos were in full-swing when the Bal Tabarin opened for business during the spring of 1955.
The small casino, based along Highway 28 next to the parking lot towards the Cal-Neva, was originally called the Cal-Vada Lodge. It first opened in 1935 and changed hands in 1951 when Joby Lewis bought the club. He renamed it the New Cal-Vada Lodge.
Lewis ran the property until he opened Joby’s Monte Carlo across the highway. The new owners changed the name of the club to the Bal Tabarin for the summer season of 1955.
Bernie Einstoss and Frank Grannis leased the casino at the Mapes in Reno before they opened the Bal Tabarin with their San Francisco partners Andrew Desimone and Tom Guerin, who was the bandleader and listed owner of the Bal Tabarin restaurant in San Francisco, CA.
Parking was plenty around the casino, and a short walk up three stairs led patrons into the noisy casino. Inside, a fancy restaurant with a nightclub attracted a steady crowd. The casino featured craps, roulette, and several 21 tables. 90 slot machines hummed away and kept players busy.
The Mary Kay Trio or other favorites from the San Francisco Bay Area often provided music into the wee hours of the morning. Mel Torme was another star headliner at the club.
Well-known comedians from Hollywood also played the stage on busy weekends while the club filled with smoke and the clattering of slot machines and heady craps games.
Lincoln Fitzgerald, who also purchased the Tahoe Biltmore and the Monte Carlo, bought the property in 1959. The property was closed after one year and never reopened, although the boarded-up building stood for another thirty-five years.
This history used with special permission of the author. Al W. Moe. All rights are reserved by Al W. Moe.
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