Monday, March 31, 2014

McDonald’s Demolition

Posted Monday, March 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM

They didn’t waste very much time getting the McDonald’s demolition started. They brought in a crew of guys and some heavy equipment and made short work of the 40-year-old building.

Here we grow again!

The building is gone but there is still plenty of trash and debris to haul away to give the construction crew an empty lot to work with.

This McDonald’s also had a basement. Now it’s an open pit that has to be filled in.

I’m sure they’re serious about getting this job done quickly. The Nevada Appeal says the new restaurant will be opening this summer.


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Carson Mall Stores Opening

Posted Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM

This week the new Sportsman’s Warehouse at the Carson Mall opened. It’s been a long road since their aborted attempt to move into the Southgate Center.

The new store is pretty popular; lot of people showed up for opening day and the first weekend. This building has been empty for a long time, and it’s good to see a new tenant in here.

The Beall’s next door is getting close to being finished also. The signs aren’t up yet but all the exterior work is done and the inside is quickly coming together.

The new sign lists all the big tenants of the mall, with a special spot reserved for Beall’s.

They also made quick work of getting the Dutch Bros Coffee shack open. After it was moved a few hundred yards to the new foundation they had to connect all the utilities, put in a seating area and repave the drive-thrus. All that’s finished and they are now serving coffee again.

Their old portable trailer is still sitting nearby, probably waiting to be hauled away.

The spot where Dutch Bros used to be has been deftly paved over, and if you didn’t know about it, you’d never even realize it used to be there. Only a patch of fresh asphalt marks the spot. Several new parking spots have been added to handle all the new patrons the mall is going to have now.

Next to Carl’s Jr they did a similar job on an oval planter that used to be here. The planter is gone, replaced by quite a few more parking spots. With these two new stores they can’t afford to waste valuable parking space on planters.

One of the last big projects left for the mall is moving the Carl’s Jr to free up even more parking and remove a huge visual and traffic bottleneck from the front of the mall. This spot here at the far south of the mall is where Carl’s is going to move. I have no idea what their timetable is for this, but they’d be smart to get it done over the warm weather of the summer, like McDonald’s is doing.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

McDonald’s Rebuild Starting

Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7:48 PM

I’ve been hearing whispers of this project for a while, and it looks like it’s finally getting started. The McDonald’s at Winnie and Carson is the oldest McDonald’s in town. I don’t know how long it’s been there but it’s definitely since the early 80s or the 70s. Maybe some Carson City old-timers would know. As such an old restaurant, it’s starting to show its age and has been in bad need of a renovation. Sometimes, though, it’s easier to just start from fresh.

That’s what I hear they are doing here. This McDonald’s is going to be torn down and rebuilt brand new, a drastic move that inconveniences everybody but ends up with a better result at the end. These complete rebuilds are rare, but not unheard of. The Pizza Hut just a few blocks north went through the same thing a few years ago.

I’ve also been hearing that the same thing is in the works for the Carl’s Jr at the Carson Mall, although in that case it would be moving across the parking lot to a less congested corner. This McDonald’s, as far as I know, is just going back at the same spot.

So now we have to keep an eye on this project and see how quickly it goes. The Pizza Hut was famous at the time for being stalled and delayed for months. Let’s hope this project gets done a bit faster.


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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Carson Mall Construction

Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Construction has been going on at the Carson Mall all fall and winter. The old Gottschalks space is finally getting some new permanent tenants. Sportsman’s Warehouse is moving in here (after pulling out of Southgate a few years ago). Also, since the space is way too big just for that, we are getting a Bealls, a store from back east that doesn’t have much of a presence out west.

It’s a big push for a mall that’s kind of been a ghost town lately. It should be popular, being right at the heart of town, but every time I go in it’s so empty. Maybe being downtown is what’s hurting it, since there’s been a definite shift south in the center of gravity in the past couple of decades. Nearly every big store in town is south of Koontz, and the ones north of that line always seem to struggle. The Carson Mall keeps holding on and keeps trying new things, it just seems like they can never win. Maybe this will be the comeback for them.

It’s also funny that they keep adding new signs for the mall.

Last fall a new sign went up. That makes four signs along Carson Street now, each one architecturally different, and each one advertising different stores.

The new sign no doubt will advertise Bealls and Sportsman’s Warehouse, but there’s plenty of space beyond that. I wonder if they’ll ever take down any of the signs, or just keep adding more?

A new restaurant is coming to the mall too. Francisco’s Mexican Restaurant, which already has a location in downtown Minden, is opening up in the old Paradise Cove space. This Carson Cove area, with the restaurants and fast food, was an exciting addition a couple of years ago, but it’s struggled to keep tenants as well. Hopefully this place will succeed here and provide a solid anchor for the mall.

There’s also some construction going on out in front of the mall in the parking lot. A foundation is going in place. It looks like it’s for a little kiosk, maybe a drive-up coffee stand like Dutch Bros. at the other end of the mall. Dutch Bros. always seems busy, so perhaps a little competition will be good. Or maybe they’ll serve something else, though I can’t imagine what else you’d serve out of a little kiosk like this.

Update: Commenters on Facebook say that Dutch Bros is moving here and tearing down their old location. Then Carl’s Jr. will also be moving, to the parking lot area at the south end of the mall. Sounds like there are even more big changes coming!

And speaking of Southgate, the construction on the new Ross store has wrapped up, and it looks like it’s just about ready to open. The old Ross next to Target has closed and been emptied out, and this new location is getting all set for customers. It’s a rare case of a business moving from Douglas County to Carson City, the reverse of the trend for the last 10 years.


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Friday, January 31, 2014

F.W. Day Then and Now

Posted Friday, January 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM

For the election of 1896, it was William McKinley versus William Jennings Bryan. Mostly forgotten now, it was a hot contest in its day, and the supporters of one side or another resorted to all kinds of advertising techniques to get the word out about their candidate.

Carson City shop owner Fred Willis Day didn’t want to alienate any of his clientele, though. In that day, businessmen had plenty of advertising techniques of their own to use, and rock ads were one popular one. Find a rock outcropping somewhere, preferably close to a well-traveled road, and paint an advertisement for your business on it. No wood or nails required. So when F.W. Day set out to make a sign, he found this rock outcropping in Clear Creek Canyon, along one of the popular wagon roads between Carson City and Lake Tahoe. it was a great spot because it was right at a bend in the road, so every traveler that passed by couldn’t help but see it.

But what to put on his sign? With election fever in full swing, he decided to tap into that with a political-themed ad. “Bryan or McKinley for President,” he said. “F.W. Day for Drygoods, Clothing, Carpets.” It don’t matter to me who you vote for, he was telling people, as long as you come into my shop. It’s hard to tell how successful he was. There’s not much mention of F.W. Day in Carson City history, just one in a long line of forgotten shops downtown. Bryan lost the election, but presumably Day won a few extra customers at his dry goods shop.

A forgotten sign for a forgotten shop, it wouldn’t be a very remarkable story if that’s all there was to it. But here’s the shocking twist to the story. F.W. Day’s rock ad in Clear Creek Canyon still survives to this day, 117 years after the election of 1896. It’s hard to tell why. Presumably the ad’s effectiveness waned after the election was over. So the logical thing would have been for Day to go out and paint over it with a more timely reference. Or, if he neglected the sign, for someone else to come along and put up their own sign on this prime piece of real estate. If you’re going to put up a rock ad in Clear Creek Canyon, this really is an ideal spot. But, unaccountably, Day’s sign, with its reference to Bryan and McKinley, is still there.

Also unclear is the date of the historic photo of the sign. The road in front of it is strewn with weeds and rock, and doesn’t look like it has been traveled in a long time. It doesn’t exactly look like one of the main roads to Tahoe. However, when Clear Creek Highway was improved and paved in 1927, they straightened out a few of the more hair-raising turns. The new alignment of the road passed a hundred feet south of here, hugging the other side of the canyon. That left this bend in the road abandoned and forgotten. It seems that the picture was taken sometime after then, at which point the sign would have already been 30 years old.

Once the road was abandoned, there was no reason for the sign to be repainted. Over time it was forgotten, tucked away where it was difficult to see. It made it through the decades and into the present day, although not without feeling the touch of idle vandals and their spray paint. The bottom of the sign is completely obliterated, but the top half, which is hard to reach without a step stool, still remains. And for being over a century old, it still remains very vibrant. Most fading ghost signs like that are worn and hard to read. This looks as crisp as the day it was painted. It makes me wonder if it was touched up and restored at some point. If it was, that brings up a whole host of new questions. When? Why? By whom?

Whatever the reason, though, F.W. Day’s sign remains as a reminder of a bygone type of advertising. And it makes for a nice little treasure hunt. Even though I knew the sign was somewhere in Clear Creek Canyon, it still took me a couple of passes up and down the road before I saw it, tucked away to the side. Clear Creek Canyon itself is mostly forgotten, too. In the 1950s a modern superhighway was built upslope from here, bypassing the old road altogether. Cars now travel Hwy 50 at freeway speeds far above this rock wall. Old Clear Creek Road is a crumbling piece of pavement that serves the residents who live further up the canyon, and in fact near the sign there is a painted warning on the street that says “Private Road.” Not many people come by to disturb F.W. Day’s sign, so there’s a chance that it might survive another 100 years (or 25 presidential elections).

More info on this sign at

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