Filed Under Businesses

Aubrey's Grocery

Call it Aubrey's, Dunc's, Mr. O's, Eddie's Corner Bar, or 40 Mile, this neighborhood market turned bar has spanned generations.

The small brick building on the northwest corner of South Virginia and Mount Rose Streets has been a busy neighborhood bar for generations. When first constructed in 1937, however, it was a simple market and service station on the southern edge of Reno.

Its first operator was E. B. "Blake" Aubrey, who named the establishment Aubrey's Grocery. His little store sold everything from newspapers to ice cream, and the gas pumps out front provided the perfect opportunity for motorists to fuel up on their way in or out of town. Aubrey secured a beer license in April of 1937 and in 1945 he added one slot machine.

Aubrey passed away in 1946, and the next few years saw a string of new owners, including Bill Beecher and Jim Cicchese. By 1948 the bar was being run by Duncan Dorsey, who had grown up in Los Angeles and played football for the University of Nevada in the 1930s. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the war, he worked as a bartender at the Little Waldorf while finishing his degree. Popular and athletic, Dorsey renamed the place “Dunc’s,” spelled out on a big sign in front of the building’s covered porte cochere.

By the early 1950s, the surrounding neighborhood was experiencing some significant changes. A Safeway grocery store opened across Mount Rose Street in 1952, transforming a former auto camp and pasture into a paved parking lot. To the north of the bar, a private home was converted in 1956 into a Spanish restaurant called Casa de Flores, and two years later was bought by chef Miguel Ribera and renamed Miguel's.

Dunc left to open another bar across town, and the little spot on the corner of Mount Rose was briefly known as the Office Bar before that establishment moved up the street, taking its charming neon sign with it.

In December 1958, Eddie Boehme, a former employee of Club 116, the Trocadero Lounge, and Harrah’s Club, completed a round of improvements to the place and reopened it as “Eddie’s Corner Bar,” which it remained through the 1980s. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Boehme also operated The Wonder Bar on South Wells Avenue.

In 1987, Paul O’Gorman bought the establishment, presiding over “Mr. O’s Corner Bar” for the next twenty years. Thoroughly renovated, the bar opened as Chapel Tavern in 2007 and in 2012, became 40 Mile Saloon.

At some point prior to 1960, the port cochere that had once extended out from the front facade and provided shelter for the gas pumps, was removed. The frame that once connected it to the building is still visible on either side of the center windows, however, as are the bricked-in ghosts of former windows and a door on the building's south side.

Images

E.B. Aubrey ca. 1945
E.B. Aubrey ca. 1945 Built in 1937, Aubrey's Grocery was a combined market, bar, and service station originally operated by E.B. "Blake" Aubrey. Source: Mickey Pillers Date: ca. 1945
Blake and Ruth Aubrey inside Aubrey's Grocery
Blake and Ruth Aubrey inside Aubrey's Grocery A photograph of proprietor E.B. "Blake" Aubrey and his wife, Ruth, behind the bar in their establishment. Note the ornate cash register on the left. Source: Mickey Pillers Date: ca. 1945
Dunc's bar
Dunc's bar While operated by Duncan Dorsey in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the bar was called Dunc's and had a small porte cochere on the front. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: ca. 1950
Corner of Mount Rose Street
Corner of Mount Rose Street Looking past the south side of the bar, this view westward along Mount Rose Street shows a quiet, tree-lined street with a few private residences. The door and windows on this side of the bar have been bricked in. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: ca. 1950
South Virginia Street at mid-century
South Virginia Street at mid-century Looking northward along South Virginia Street, the left foreground is occupied by the parking lot for the new Safeway. Then called the Office Bar, the corner tavern was flanked on its north side by the Casa de Flores. Further north is the vertical sign for the Washoe Market. Source: Nevada Department of Transportation Date: ca. 1955
Corner Bar
Corner Bar As Virginia Street became a busier thoroughfare, it became the site of enormous billboards. In 1987, ownership of the bar shifted from Eddie Boehme to Paul O'Gorman, known affectionately as Mr. O. Source: Nevada Historical Society Date: 1986
40 Mile Saloon
40 Mile Saloon After Mr. O’s lost their lease, Duncan Mitchell transformed the bar first into Chapel Tavern and then 40 Mile Saloon. The door and windows formerly on the bar's south side have been bricked in, leaving only their outlines behind. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2015

Location

1495 S. Virginia Street, Reno

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Aubrey's Grocery,” Reno Historical, accessed July 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/134.