WASHOE VALLEY - For 27 years, Cattlemens Restaurant has been known for its giant steaks and Western atmosphere at its only Nevada location in a small community off Highway 395.
Most of that won't change, the new owners say.
Washoe Flats Steakhouse, purchased and renamed this month by a Reno family, will have the same recipes and look. The owners plan to add more salads and pasta for those who aren't as attracted to a meat-packed menu.
Len Marazzo, of Reno, said any changes will come slowly to a restaurant that many people have gone to for a steak and beer at one time or another.
"Every night, we have people asking the servers to invite us to come to their table to meet them," Marazzo said Wednesday. "People are really excited that a local family took over this restaurant."
Washoe Flats Steakhouse, known since 1979 as one of the original Cattlemens restaurants, is a wood paneled, dimly lit restaurant where generations of locals have feted newlyweds, graduates and retirees. Holidays are packed. On Father's Day, they served 525 meals, which Marazzo said was a lot for their third day in the business.
Cattlemens was the place visitors and locals went to for the Western atmosphere. Horns from longhorn cattle decorate some walls. The "horseshoe" table is popular with regulars, despite the fact that the server has to squeeze into the table to serve everyone. Some employees have worked at the restaurant for as long as it's been open.
One of the most notable aspects of the property is a small, dilapidated home that is believed to be too historic to tear down. The folklore surrounding the home runs deeper than facts that they can prove, but Marazzo said tourists can continue to take pictures beside it: They have no plans to tear it down.
Marazzo's first career in catering and conventions led him to Cattlemens. He said it was one of the few restaurants with the capability of seating large parties. He also operates Beyond Travel in north Reno, which mostly books groups and conventions.
"In the back of my mind, I always had the concept and for years," Marazzo said. "I talked with my dad and brother about having a family restaurant."
Marazzo's business partners include his wife, Lana; parents Paul and Barbara Marazzo; and Paul Jr. Marazzo and his wife, Christy.
The Marazzos took over the 11,000-square-foot restaurant June 16, the same day a wildfire broke out near the freeway construction. This was a stressful day for the entire family.
"We thought we were going to lose it the same day we opened it," Paul Marazzo Sr. said.
They've got 5.5 acres in a picturesque location beside the hills to work with, and the Marazzos are excited to get started.
"We have a vision to develop the outside," Marazzo said. "We plan on building a deck or patio for outdoor dining off the west side of the property."
The restaurant has 45 employees and seats 350, but that could increase by 100 next summer. In the next few months, the Marazzos will level the desert landscape beside the parking lot for use as outdoor banquet and special events area with picnic tables and barbecues. Marazzo said they would like to conduct events during Street Vibrations and Oktoberfest.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
555 Highway 395 in Washoe Valley
Open for dinner:
5-10 p.m. weekdays
4-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday