Filed Under Food

Louis' Basque Corner

Originating in 1907 as the Hotel Richelieu but best known for the Basque restaurant that opened downstairs in 1967.

Louis' Basque Corner has been a beloved local restaurant for nearly 50 years, but the building it occupies has a much longer history. Stone mason John Barrett built the Hotel Richelieu on the corner of Peavine Street (now Evans Avenue) in 1907, on property where he operated his successful marble and granite company. An Irish immigrant, Barrett, along with his son, made many of the headstones in area cemeteries, as well as the granite pillars at the main entrance to the University of Nevada campus. He also carved the stone representing Nevada for the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

Located near the depot that served the Southern Pacific Railroad and Virginia & Truckee Railroad, and by 1910, next door to the new N-C-O Railway depot, the Hotel Richelieu had 35 rooms and immediately enjoyed a great deal of business.

By 1913, the Richelieu found itself on the route of the new Lincoln Highway, which brought an increase in automobile tourism. It also operated as a boarding house, serving the divorce trade as well as some Basque sheepherders who came to Nevada from the Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain. The sheepherders spent summer and fall in remote areas of rural Nevada with their sheep herds, but when winter came, they returned to town, staying in hotels until it was time to go back to the high desert ranges.

The ground floor housed a series of small groceries, from Staples & Baker to the Lincoln Market. In 1936 it became the Lincoln Bar, a 24-hour establishment offering “booths for ladies.” After World War II, the hotel was renamed the Hotel Dude, perhaps as a nod to the divorce trade (divorce seekers were known locally as dudes). In the 1960s, it was known as the Lincoln Hotel, with a new Italian restaurant added to the bar space in 1963.

In 1967, Louis and Lorraine Erreguible leased the building from the Barretts, including the rooming house upstairs, added a second dining room, and transformed the restaurant into Louis’ Basque Corner. Louis had arrived in Reno from Mauleon in 1948, rejecting a job herding sheep in order to work in restaurants and later as a custom cabinet maker. Instantly popular among locals, the restaurant developed a national reputation for Basque cuisine served in the traditional family style. Upon their retirement in 2011, the Erreguibles passed on the restaurant's operation to new purveyors, who purchased the building from John Barrett's descendants and continue to operate Louis’ Basque Corner with the same family atmosphere and beloved Basque traditions.

Audio

Transforming an Italian restaurant into Louis' Basque Corner Interviewed in 2012, Louis and Lorraine Erreguible describe the condition of the Hotel Richelieu when they purchased the building in 1967. Creator: Imanol Murua Date: 2012
How to make a picon punch In a 2012 interview, Louis and Lorraine Erreguible explain how to make a picon punch, the signature drink at Louis' Basque Corner. Creator: Imanol Murua Date: 2012

Images

Louis' Basque Corner
Louis' Basque Corner Louis' Basque Corner is a familiar local landmark with a national reputation for family-style Basque dining. Creator: Catherine Magee Date: 2011
Lincoln Bar, 1949
Lincoln Bar, 1949 This photo, taken by a patron in December 1949, shows owner Louis Miolini and his bold signage which heralded a watering spot for tourists and locals who needed a little refreshment along U.S. 40. Source: Cindy Ainsworth Date: 1949
Staples & Baker
Staples & Baker The Staples & Baker grocery store was located on the hotel's ground floor upon its opening in 1907. The same space later housed the Star Grocery, Martin's Groceteria, the Pioneer Grocery, and in 1931, the Lincoln Market. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: February 29, 1907
Lincoln Market
Lincoln Market The Lincoln Market operated on the hotel's ground floor for five years beginning in 1931. In 1936, the space became the Lincoln Bar, both named after the Lincoln Highway, which ran along Fourth Street through Reno. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: November 6, 1931
A hotel room
A hotel room During its years as a hotel, the building's top two floors were divided into many small rooms, each featuring a sink and enough space for a bed and a few small pieces of furniture. Creator: Joe Elcano Date: 2014
The Erreguibles
The Erreguibles Louis and Lorraine Erreguible opened Louis' Basque Corner in 1967 and ran it (as well as the boarding rooms upstairs) until their retirement in 2011. Lorraine passed away in 2013. Creator: Patrick Cummings
Lincoln Bar sign
Lincoln Bar sign When renovations commenced in 2013, workers uncovered a partial remnant of the painted Lincoln Bar sign on the side of the building. Creator: Joe Elcano

Location

301 E. 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Louis' Basque Corner,” Reno Historical, accessed June 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/95.