Filed Under Businesses

Hinkel's Café

German immigrant Gene Hinkel opened his cafe at the corner of Granite (now Sierra) and Ridge Streets in 1941.

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

Old Name, New Use
Old Name, New Use The Old Granite Street Eatery revived the historic name of this stretch of south Sierra Street, bringing the building back to its original use as a restaurant. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014
Hinkel's Cafe ad
Hinkel's Cafe ad 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. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: December 24, 1943
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. Source: U.S. Library of Congress Creator: Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Date: 1918
McClure's Cafe
McClure's Cafe Clarence McClure took over the restaurant space for a few years after Gene and Marie Hinkel closed their cafe. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: August 13, 1945
L.R. Eby & Co
L.R. Eby & Co 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. Source: Nevada State Journal Date: September 28, 1948
Sierra Escrow
Sierra Escrow Sierra Escrow opened in the building in 1960. Source: Reno Evening Gazette Date: December 16, 1960
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. Creator: Max Chapman Date: 2007
Remodeling
Remodeling Workers removed the steeple and sign from the Heart of Reno wedding chapel in 2009. Creator: Dennis Myers Date: 2009

Location

243 South Sierra Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Hinkel's Café,” Reno Historical, accessed April 12, 2024, https://renohistorical.org/items/show/108.