PHOTO STORY: A Saturday stroll through downtown Reno amid COVID closures

RENO, Nev. — Look, it's not all bad. I need to be clear about that right up front.

For every “doom and gloom” COVID-19 anecdote you read on social media, for every “negative” story about the crisis and its impact to the economy, you'll find countless examples of great things happening across Northern Nevada from a “we're in this together” mindset.

Take, for example, the Downtown Reno Partnership, whose ambassadors are literally “cleaning up downtown,” carrying disinfectants to wipe down areas everyone touches, such as doorknobs, trash can handles and traffic light buttons.

Or, there's Q&D Construction. The company's president, Lance Semenko, is taking a unique approach to helping restaurants amid closures by purchasing one lunch each week for Q&D employees — and, he's challenging other companies to do the same through the so-hashtagged #LocalFoodLove challenge.

Yet other examples shine by way of emergency relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Nevada (in partnership with Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks) and the United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra (with key support from Plumas Bank, NV Energy Foundation, Microsoft Reno and Bank of America).

Still, despite the notion that "we're in this together,” it doesn't change that we're living in unprecedented times right now, and the future of many local businesses hang in the balance — a consequence of COVID collateral damage, if you will.

With these impacts in mind, I took a stroll Saturday afternoon through downtown Reno to get some exercise and some much-needed Vitamin D, and was mesmerized by what I saw (or, perhaps, by what I didn't).

It was, in a word, "surreal."

Armed with an iPhone, here's what I saw (I've included the websites of all the businesses photographed — please consider visiting them, or any other regional business in need, and doing what you can to buy or donate during this uncertain time):

Sierra Tap House, which would normally be teeming with craft beer enthusiasts thirsty for a patio drink under the warm sunny sky, is instead boarded up until further notice.
Speaking of drinks, the nearby Derby Supply Company — which specializes in providing haircut and beard-trim patrons the opportunity to sip a craft libation while being groomed — will be closed until April 20, presuming mandates are lifted.
Formerly known as Reno eNVy, Home Means Nevada is usually a popular weekend spot for tourists looking for the perfect Battle Born-inspired souvenir. But, not this Saturday.
Bumblebee Blooms Flower Boutique is making the most of the mandated closures, staying open for pick-up and delivery. "We believe that sending flowers to brighten someones day is still pretty essential in these dark times," the company posted on its website.
Defined by its refined yet upbeat atmosphere at the corner of 2nd and Sierra streets, Thai Corner Café recently "made a difficult decision to close our restaurant until further notice," restaurant owners said.
The view looking north in downtown Reno near the Eldorado Resort on Sierra Street, which normally would be abuzz with traffic and sports book patrons amid the NCAA's March Madness tournament. Instead, we could cross the street freely, no need to even worry about using the crosswalks with such little traffic.
An entry to the Eldorado Resort is boarded and chained, just an incredible thing to see for a Reno casino that's been open 24/7 for decades.
Likewise, the Silver Legacy Resort — the Sierra Street corner doors pictured — is also closed temporarily. It was an eerie feeling walking under The Row on 5th Street and clearly hearing the casinos' sound system play classic rock. Typically on a warm sunny Saturday, the buzz of passing-by gamblers, tourists and city walkers would easily drown out the music.
While the storefront is closed, Premier Jewelry & Loan at 490 N. Virginia St. is still serving its loan customers.
Some businesses, like popular downtown Mexican eatery Los Gallos Taqueria, resort to simple hand-scrawled notes to inform customers of closures. Though, in this case, the smiley face is an important reminder that most of these closures are temporary, and that "this too shall pass."
The T-Bird Café, which opened summer 2017 and serves sandwiches, burgers, salads and more, announced its storefront is closed until further notice; however, delivery options are available, per the restaurant's Facebook page.
A sign at Palace Jewelry & Loan Company Inc. at 300 N. Virginia St. indicates to customers the business plans to reopen soon – and yes, outstanding loans are being held.
Siri's Casino on Virginia Street closed at 11:59 p.m. March 17 and will reopen "once the appropriate government officials have recommended it."
Next door, The Little Nugget — established in 1950 and home to the World Famous
Awful Awful Burger — is also closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, across the street, an entrance to Harrah's Reno is boarded up amid the casino's temporary closure.
Even Nevada's all-in-one wedding industry is feeling impacts from COVID-19. Here, Arch of Reno Wedding Chapel lets prospective patrons know that the business of issuing licenses and performing weddings is not essential at this time.
Reno's famed Bruka Theatre has suspended performances through the end of the month. "We are sending our love, light and gratitude to all during this strange and unsettling time," the theater team wrote on its Facebook page.
The Antique Angel Wedding Chapel is also temporarily closed — "it has been an exceptionally difficult couple of days," according to the company's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, at Wild River Grille, staff decided that social gatherings of any kind may increase the spread of the virus, so operations currently are suspended. "This closure will be temporary and we welcome you to continue your patronage with us by purchasing a gift card for a future night out," according to the popular restaurant's website.

Go here to read more from The Nevada Independent about how Wild River Grille owner Chuck Shapiro is navigating this uncertain and unprecedented time.

Kevin MacMillan is editor of the NNBW. Email him at


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