J.T. to get a facelift
The J.T. Basque Bar and Dining Room, a historic landmark in Gardnerville, will receive a new look this summer.
“It used to have a balcony so we’re putting the old balcony back on,” said J.B. Lekumberry, co-owner of the J.T. “In addition to the balcony, we’re putting in handicapped bathrooms.”
The new balcony will resemble the old one, J.B. said.
“We won’t be changing the bar too much. It should be recognizable. The hats aren’t going anywhere,” he said, referring to the collection of hats that line the walls.
The J.T. has been in the Lekumberry family since 1960, J.B. said, when his dad Jean purchased the bar and restaurant from John and Grace Trounday.
“It was a Basque restaurant then and has been a Basque restaurant since,” J.B. said.
Before the Trounday’s converted the building into a Basque bar and restaurant, it was the site of the Springer Bar.
The history of the building doesn’t begin there, though.
The building was originally located in the Silver City-Gold Hill area and was moved to Genoa in the 1890’s where it sat for a year before being placed at the current site.
“It was put on this site in 1895,” J.B. said.
J.B. and his sister Marie began running the J.T. when Jean died in August 1993.
J.B. said the idea to reconstruct the balcony originated with Jean.
“I remember hearing the idea from my father,” he said. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do.”
“Both my sister and I are still young,” he said. “We’re kind of in our prime, and we still have the energy and ambition to do it.”
J.B. said since they were dealing with the general improvements, they figured they would make the bathrooms comply with American Disability Act laws, though they had not been asked to change them.
In addition to the bathrooms and balcony, J.B. said general improvements will be made to the bar without changing the historic character people have come to know and love.
“The J.T. is a pretty historical building,” he said. “The fact that we’re putting the balcony on it and that we’re trying to fix it up, everyone is receptive to that. Everyone is in a good light for that.
“The feeling we’ve had from everybody from the town, from the people we had to deal with, everything has been extremely positive.
“We’ve had a ton of support from everyone. Everyone is very willing and excited about trying this.”
The original part of the J.T. is the two story building in front with a few new additions added over the years.
“Basically, not much has been done,” J.B. said. “I think it is the first shot at trying to make it look like what it did back in 1910.”
The new balcony is being hand-crafted by Al Asti of Mountain Home Construction.
“Al is doing a really nice job,” J.B. said. “He’s doing all the hand work and is doing a super job.”
While construction is being done, the J.T. will remain open.
“So far we’ve been fortunate enough to be doing it without ever having to close, and hopefully we won’t have to close,” J.B. said.
He also said there is not a final date for the finish, he is predicting the construction will be finished by the end of the summer.