Carmelita’s reopens in downtown Gardnerville |

Carmelita’s reopens in downtown Gardnerville

by Sharon Carter

A popular Ranchos restaurant which burned earlier this month will reopen this weekend with a new name and in a new location.

Carmelita’s, formerly Rancho Grande in the Tillman Plaza, will be open for business Sunday at the Bull’s Eye, 1424 Main St. in downtown Gardnerville, owner Salvador Rubio said Thursday.

“Everything is absolutely fresh, nothing out of a can,” Rubio said. “We’ll have chile rellenos, tamales in corn husks and our famous flan. Home-made tortillas, abondigas – the same menu items our loyal Rancho Grande customers came to expect.”

The family operation – Rubio and his wife, Begonia, and Begonia’s parents and brother will staff the restaurant – will be open six days a week. The restaurant will be closed the same day the Bull’s Eye chooses to close, but the other business has not yet decided on a day.

“I’m a little afraid to take a day off,” Rubio said. “I worked 60 days straight at Rancho Grande, then took one day off and look what happened.”

On Feb. 10, Rancho Grande and the shops in the strip mall at the corner of Tillman and Kimmerling were destroyed by a fire. Damage to the building and businesses was estimated at $400,000.

Rubio said investigators have determined that the fire started in a refrigerator in his restaurant.

“We’re all still waiting while the four or five insurance companies involved sort things out,” he said. “Most of us lost everything. Since the fire was caused by an electrical problem in a brand new refrigerator, the insurance companies are looking at either the soft drink people who installed it or its manufacturer to pay for the damages. The way they’re fighting, it will probably be a long time before we see any money.”

One of nine children, Rubio is from Ameca, about 40 miles from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. His parents, Roberto and Carmelita (for whom Carmelita’s is named), are ranchers. He said they run about 400 head of cattle, have a pig farm and also grow 50 acres of sugar cane. But, he said, they will likely visit Gardnerville this summer, delegating one of his brothers to oversee the ranch in their absence.

Begonia, Rubio’s wife of 14 years is also from Ameca. They have four children.

“We were high school sweethearts, so we’ve been together a long time. And, still sweethearts,” he said.

Before opening Rancho Grande in the Gardnerville Ranchos last December, Rubio worked as a waiter in South Lake Tahoe, most recently aboard the Tahoe Queen.

“So a lot of our friends from Tahoe became regulars at Rancho Grande,” he said. “We want to invite them, along with our Valley clientele, to stop by and see us.”