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.