After 48 years and 10 months Elvira Cenoz said goodbye to the Overland Hotel on Friday with hugs, stories and of course — picon punches.
“It’s retirement time,” she said. “I’m really happy.”
The Park family bought the historic Basque restaurant in May with plans to keep the establishment open.
Chuck and Shirley Hill have been visiting the Overland since 1965 as a dinner stop on their way to Reno from Southern California.
“This is the Basque place,” Chuck said. “Elvira was always working in the kitchen and her husband was behind the bar.”
The couple retired to the Gardnerville Ranchos in 1999.
“The lamb chops are my favorite,” Chuck said. “Hers are not real small, they’re always bigger, and no matter where we are we always liked hers the best.”
Having enjoyed the hospitality and family atmosphere the Cenoz’ have put into the Overland, Chuck said he was unsure of the new owners.
“I don’t know how a big corporation is going to be able to run a family place like this,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
With 40 years experience of pouring picons for the Overland, bartender Jesus Rey said the key is, “very little grenadine, picon, a dash of soda water, a float of brandy and a lemon twist on top.”
“Working at the Overland is always fun,” he said. “It’s a great place to meet people.”
The building that houses the Overland was built in 1910 by Gardnerville butcher Sam Imelli. Imelli operated it as a meat market, using the steel rack that still exists overhead to move meat around the store.
The Overland was later owned by John and Jeanne Etchemendy, who operated a hotel, bar, restaurant and boarding house. Etchemendy sold it to Eusebio Cenoz and Esperanza Dufar. Cenoz’ wife Elvira operated the property until this week.
Basque sheepherders frequently boarded at the Overland when they weren’t out in the wilderness tending to their flocks, according to a U.S. Forest Service plaque mounted on the front.