Filed Under Businesses

Ponderosa Meat Company

From its origins as Reno Frozen Food Lockers in 1947, the family business has endured for generations.

The Ponderosa Meat Company had its start in 1947 as Reno Frozen Food Lockers. Brothers-in-law George L. Siri, Sr. and Willie Carano opened the butchering business and frozen locker plant after partnering for years at downtown’s Silver State Bakery, which they sold to Frank Welsh in 1946. Siri purchased the land and topped the business operation with four small one-bedroom apartments.

Their new venture was perfectly timed for the postwar era, enabling customers to rent lockers to store food that could not fit in the typical home freezer. Advertised as the “Most Modern Frozen Food Plant in the West,” the building contained 972 lockers, each six cubic feet in size. In addition, the business offered butcher service, aging and chill rooms for meat, and cold storage for fur coats and accessories.

Siri’s son, George L. Siri, Jr. bought his father’s interest in the business after returning from service in the U.S. Navy in 1954, and for a short time, he and his wife, Sue, lived in apartment #4 upstairs.

The deer hunting season, generally September to the end of November, brought an enormous annual surge of business—at one point bringing in more than 2,000 deer in a single year. As Siri, Jr. recalls, “We hired extra help, usually a butcher, a deer skinner, one or two women meat wrappers and a cleanup crew.” Many area ranchers also brought in their beef for processing.

In 1973, Siri and Carano sold the business to Don O’Day and Bruno Mastelotto and left to help run the family’s new Eldorado Hotel-Casino. Finding that the casino business wasn’t for him, Siri partnered with O’Day and Mastelotto in 1974 to create the Ponderosa Meat Company.

The new corporation entered into the wholesale meat business with restaurants, casinos, and other clients, prompting an expansion of the building on the Holcomb Avenue side and a gradual phasing out of the rental lockers. Today, the company is a full-service retail and wholesale butcher shop run by members of its founding families.


Grand Opening ad
Grand Opening ad A newspaper advertisement published on April 9, 1947 announces the company's services with a photograph of the building. The second floor housed four small one-bedroom apartments. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: April 9, 1947
Reno Frozen Food Lockers
Reno Frozen Food Lockers A photograph of the building taken during a 1965 road construction project reveals a painted Coca-Cola advertisement below the company name. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: 1965
Diversified business, 1954
Diversified business, 1954 By the mid-1950s, Reno Frozen Food Lockers sold frozen vegetables and a variety of meats in addition to offering locker rentals and fur storage. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: July 22, 1954
Decades of tradition
Decades of tradition Although the building has been expanded through the years, most notably after entering into the wholesale business in the 1970s, its facade and front office retain much of the original 1947 appearance. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2015


1264 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV


Alicia Barber, “Ponderosa Meat Company,” Reno Historical, accessed July 14, 2024,