Hinkel's Café

Gene Hinkel was already an established restaurateur in 1941, when he bought property at the corner of Ridge Street and Granite Street (now South Sierra Street) in order to construct a modern brick restaurant. A native of Germany, Hinkel had immigrated to the United States as a child, and by the 1920s was living with his brother Henry in Tonopah, where they ran the Mizpah Grill. In 1921, the brothers moved to Reno to operate a series of restaurants, both together and apart, including the Nevada Smoke House and the West Second Street Café and Bar in the old Journal Building.

Granite Street was just four blocks long at the time, running from the Truckee River southward to California Avenue. The street changed names in 1949, a full twelve years after the completion of the Sierra Street bridge connected the street to the commercial area north of the river. Only later was Sierra Street re-routed to join up with Plumas Street.

Gene ran Hinkel’s Café on Granite Street with his wife, Marie, for three years. In 1945, they sold the place to Clarence McClure, who renamed the place McClure’s Café, dubbing it “The Place of Good Food.”

The building’s days as a restaurant seemed to be at an end in 1948, when it was extensively remodeled and re-opened as an insurance office. Instead of a dining room and kitchen, the space was divided into one big reception room with two private offices and a file room. Through the next few decades, the building served many purposes, including an escrow company and a lawyers’ office.

In the early 2000s, the Heart of Reno Wedding Chapel moved into the building from its longstanding site just around the corner on Court Street, adding a steeple to the roof and dividing the interior into two separate chapels. The chapel benefited greatly from its location, just one block from the marriage license bureau inside the courthouse, and was open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

The building’s history, as well as its name, came full circle in 2010, when it was transformed once again into a restaurant, the Old Granite Street Eatery.

Images

Hinkel's Cafe ad, 1943

Hinkel's Cafe ad, 1943

In a newspaper ad from 1943, Hinkel conveyed Christmas greetings to "Americans Everywhere." Born in Germany, Hinkel may have found it especially important to strike a patriotic note during World War II, as the United States fought his native country. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Granite Street, 1918

Granite Street, 1918

The 1918 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the layout of the area that year. Yellow indicates a wood frame structure, while pink symbolizes brick. In 1918 a single-family frame house stood at the future site of Hinkel's Cafe, at the corner of Granite and Ridge Streets. Image courtesy of Philip Galbraith View File Details Page

McClure's Cafe, 1945

McClure's Cafe, 1945

Clarence McClure took over the restaurant space for a few years after Gene and Marie Hinkel closed their cafe. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

L.R. Eby & Co, 1948

L.R. Eby & Co, 1948

The building's function changed when it was converted from a restaurant to an insurance office in 1948, the same year as the construction of the five-room business block next door. Image courtesy of Nevada State Journal View File Details Page

Sierra Escrow, 1960

Sierra Escrow, 1960

Sierra Escrow opened in the building in 1960. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Heart of Reno Wedding Chapel

Heart of Reno Wedding Chapel

Pictured in 2007, the Heart of Reno Wedding Chapel moved into the space after operating around the corner at 62 Court Street for decades. Photo by Max Chapman View File Details Page

Remodeling, 2009

Remodeling, 2009

Workers removed the steeple and sign from the Heart of Reno wedding chapel in 2009. Photo by Dennis Myers View File Details Page

Old Name, New Use

Old Name, New Use

The Old Granite Street Eatery revives the historic name of this stretch of south Sierra Street, bringing the building back to its original use as a restaurant. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

243 South Sierra Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Hinkel's Café,” Reno Historical, accessed March 27, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/108.

Share this Story