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CVI marks 15th anniversary

by Linda Hiller

Sixteen years ago, Jeane and Patrick Mulreany stood on the site that is now the Carson Valley Inn and tried to envision a nice restaurant.

The Smith Valley couple had been lamenting the limited late night spots in the Carson Valley – places where a person could have a quiet meal or cup of coffee after a movie – and as they stood on that piece of land, it seemed like the best thing they could do for the community was to put in a restaurant. But it wasn’t that simple.

“We began to research it, and someone told us that in Nevada we shouldn’t build a restaurant without some gaming,” Jeane said. “And then, someone said, ‘Well, you really shouldn’t build a restaurant and a casino without some hotel rooms, and then why have a restaurant/casino/hotel without a convention center and a chapel? Our little idea just mushroomed.”

So, with the couple funding their own $7.5 million project – Patrick had founded Xebec, a company manufacturing computer disk controllers – construction began in November 1983. Nine months later, in August 1984, the Carson Valley Inn was born with five game tables and 155 slot machines.

One month later, the 100-room hotel opened, and it’s been a “short” 15 years since then.

“It’s gone by so fast,” Mulreany said. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years.”

“Other times, it seems like 115 years,” joked Bill Henderson, director of sales and marketing since 1985.

Jeane’s husband Patrick Mulreany, who was born in Ireland, is a behind-the-scenes owner, while she handles the inn’s operation when she’s not spending time with the couple’s four children, ranging in age from 11 to 17.

The restaurants at the Inn are named after the children – Michael’s, Fiona’s and Katie’s. A future ice cream parlor may be named after Siobhan, the youngest Mulreany, Jeane said.

A team philosophy. The Carson Valley Inn’s administrative philosophy involves the use of a leadership team. There are five key directors who handle the inn’s day-to-day operations and strategic planning under the chairmanship of Jeane Mulreany.

The team consists of Debra Lang, director of hotel operations; Steve Chappell, director of finance and administration; Tom Chamberlain, director of casino operations; Robin Tanner, director of food and wine; and Henderson.

“This group has been a delight to work with since we formed the leadership team concept in September of 1998,” Mulreany said. “I’ve worked with many of them since we built the CVI in 1984, and I’m very comfortable empowering these individuals to make decisions in their respective areas.”

Always improving. Something significant has happened at the Carson Valley Inn every year for the past 15 years. In 1985, construction began on a 25 percent casino expansion of the 7-month-old resort; a year later Michael’s Pub opened, and in 1987, Katie’s restaurant was expanded. In early 1988, Fiona’s restaurant opened ,and later in the year, the 60-site RV resort opened.

During the next decade, a variety of remodeling projects was completed, the Carson Valley Market opened, the $2.2 million Motor Lodge was built and a $4.4 million casino expansion was begun in 1992. In 1993, P.J’s Pub replaced Michael’s; Katie’s was remodeled; and in 1998, Fiona’s was revamped and the parking lot enlarged.

After opening with a staff of 150, the Carson Valley Inn now employs 550 people and has the same number of slot machines.

“I don’t know what that means,” Henderson said. “But, when we started we had 150 slots and 150 employees – now we have 550 slots and 550 employees. Maybe that’s an industry indicator or something.”

Future plans include a new casino floor this winter, new carpet in the hallways, new wallpaper and a gourmet coffee bar next year.

Over the years, the inn has hosted every Nevada politician – senators, congressmen and congresswomen, governors and the like, as well as a few celebrities, including Fred Savage, Cloris Leachman and Chuck Yeager. CVI has adopted some causes, including support, including breast cancer awareness and treatment through the Komen Foundation, and most anything that has to do with education.

Through all the projects, progress and daily doings, Mulreany said one thing stands out in her mind as the most satisfying memory.

“What I remember most are the people who have come here to work, and how we’ve watched so many of their lives change,” she said. “We have many long-time employees here and even several from the original staff who have been with us for the whole 15 years. That is gratifying.”