Wednesday Afternoon at the Cal Neva Casino

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Picture: Google 

The glory days of Reno as gaming city has long past. For years RENO was the destination for gambling and  by the mid 50’s  the city was surpassed by Las Vegas as the largest gaming destination in the United States.

There are more closed hotels and casinos on Reno’s Virginia Street than open. On the corner of Second and Virginia is the Cal Neva Casino.  Best known for its one dollar beer its $5.99 prime rib dinner.   The nearly sixty year old Casino is like an old worn and comfy sofa.   It isn’t special, not much has been done through the years to change its overall appearance, but its familiar.

Its Wednesday afternoon,.patrons who enter through the Virginia street side of the casino are greeted with the a few of the newer machines, as you walk further into the casino most the machines are fairly old..  I’m the only patron in one area of casino.   There is a worker casually cleaning every other machine and seems to be looking out for someone, a supervisor I suppose.    I settled into an oldie but new to me machine, the buttons on most of the lower part of the machine are filled with cigarette ashes.   What I couldn’t blow off, I wiped off with a clean napkin lying between machines.

Some of the machines have a story.  This particular machine is of a beautiful blackmailer, the more prominent the person, the greater the payout. With the judge and a city council member being  the most valued.   One by one, they would line up on the screen.  With my five penny bet, a screen full of judges would pay out $75.00 dollars, and with a maximum bet of a dollar, I could win two thousand dollars.

Minutes seemed like minutes and my portfolio grew to fourteen dollars and when it dwindled down to eighty five cents it was time to go.   Walking around ground floor of the casino, I was one of less than a dozen people.    The second floor was livelier, there were quite a few people in the sports booking area and more people playing on slot machines upstairs than down.   Far and away the busiest place in the casino. was the restaurant.  Opened face sandwiches with a ton of fries for $2.99 and of course the $5.99 prime rib dinner with all the fixings.   A lot of the patrons are regulars, locals and tourist who  have known the wait staff for years.   The area was lively and filled with laughter.

The Cal Neva is the place, where its comfortable, its not pretentious .  It a place where  some of the regulars are greeted by name, a place when locals can just chill.   The food at Harrah’s, (my hotel across the street)  wasn’t much better than Cal Neva’s at triple the cost. So I became a regular and when I sat down for dinner, someone said, “are you having Chicken Parm or the prime rib? (Well damm!!!! I said to myself, I could want the pork chops, stay out of my bizness! )   I smiled,  prime rib to go…with mashed and fried potatoes…  After I paid for my to go order, the girl said, see you tomorrow big guy?   Maybe not tomorrow, but you will see me again…….





Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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