“People must have been just driving by looking at the doors,” said Young, the Great Basin’s owner.
“We were just about full that day and we certainly hadn’t announced it (the opening) yet,” she added with a laugh.
As of Monday, the unannounced grand opening, Nevada’s oldest operating brewery and restaurant is bringing classic food and award-winning beers to Reno as well as Sparks.
Great Basin Brewing Co. opened its doors Monday at 5525 S. Virginia St. to a full house.
The restaurant and brewery is the second outpost for owners Tom and Bonda Young who have been brewing in Sparks for more than 16 years.
The partnership invested more than $2 million to renovate the facility for brewing the company’s award-winning lineup of ales and lagers. It will also accommodate its traditional dining offerings.
The facility needed major renovations to transform the 8,000-square-foot space from a Mexican cantina, formerly an On the Border restaurant, to a pub with a bar. Inside there will be a brewery on display, more visible than the Victorian Avenue location in Sparks, for the public to watch how beer is made.
“It will allow us to increase capacity by 1.2 million pints a year and will offer Reno an oasis of fine ales, lagers and food right in their own zip code” Bonda said.
The Great Basin Brewery and Restaurant features a pizza oven along with the same menu offered at the Sparks Victorian Square restaurant and brewery, which is celebrating its 16th year in operation this year at 846 Victorian Ave.
The new facility features dining, a “display” pizza oven and a 25-barrel brewhouse. The new restaurant and brewery has hired 60 employees, Young said, while keeping their 42 employees working at the Sparks location. Executive chef Kevin Ashton will oversee both the Reno and Sparks operations. Ashton attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore. He most recently was employed by Butcher Boy Prime before taking the position at Great Basin.
The Youngs say they have plans for a small bottling line to start up in about six months, providing bottles to distribute throughout the region.
The restaurant and brewery has been named “Best of Reno” in numerous reader polls.
Great Basin Reno can be reached at 284-7711 and in Sparks at 355-7711.