September – October 2013
The Nevada pride flows—literally and figuratively—inside new California Avenue saloon in Reno.
BY MATTHEW B. BROWN
As Nevada preps for its sesquicentennial celebration of 2014, 1864 Tavern in Reno couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. “We just really take pride in our state,” says co-owner Shawn Plunket, “and we wanted to have a venue that celebrates that. Not only our state, but our community.”
An homage to the year that Nevada was granted statehood, the classy new establishment on California Avenue is marked by its clean, open Victorian décor and serves up tasty libations that exude Silver State pride such as the Nevada Fix and the Gold Rush. The combination of history and enthusiasm for the Battle Born State works well. Plunket and his business partner, Kevin Walen, went so far as to create a replica mine shaft in one part of the building.
During the grand opening in late May, Walen explained how the old-saloon concept was derived. “We just didn’t want your average, everyday bar,” Walen said. He, like Plunket, is a master sergeant who has served the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Nevada Air National Guard C-130 Flight Engineer. “Traveling back and forth to the desert we stopped in a lot of European towns, and we got to see some of these really cool, old bars that had been around [forever]…but they still had a modern feel to them. That’s how we came up with this idea of 1864—and to show off Nevada as much as we could.”
A weathered crate labeled “JAMES-CANYON RANCH GENOA NEV” is fastened to the wall behind the bar, and black-and-white photos of historical Nevada figures are scattered about. Keeping with the 1864 theme, patrons can grab a seat in the Lincoln Booth, the wall of which includes an iconic portrait of the famous president who was instrumental in admitting Nevada into the Union during the Civil War. “Always sit with your back to the wall in [that] booth,” Walen jokes.
We were elated to learn of a Nevada Magazine connection as well. Our 2012 Great Nevada Picture Hunt photo contest Grand Prize winner, Kristoffer Pfalmer of Reno, has his phenomenal photography displayed throughout the venue. Many of Pfalmer’s photos are aerials—that’s because, as a traditional guardsmen navigator for the Nevada Air National Guard, he sees the state from a vantage not many get to (see page 77). That’s also how he befriended Plunket and Walen.
The tavern is not just about celebrating Nevada, or serving thirsty patrons; there’s a greater cause at work here. In addition to supporting other local businesses, Plunket and Walen hope to assist in building a playground for children who attend Reno’s Marvin Picollo Elementary School, established in 1974 to serve students with mental and physical challenges. To renovate the playground with the necessary special-needs equipment, it will cost about $75,000. The guardsmen are helping by donating a portion of their revenues from 1864 Tavern. Much like their successful military careers, the men hope 1864 Tavern takes off as well.