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Dining for dollars

John Seelmeyer

It makes perfectly good sense, Bob Barone says, that an upscale kitchen dominates the offices of Ancora West Advisers, the financial advisory firm in Reno that he heads.

Barone, a former banker and longtime investments manager, often cooks gourmet meals in the kitchen as he introduces the firm to potential clients.

“Our business is mostly relationships,” he says. “It’s my belief that when people are friends and trust each other, they end up in the kitchen.”

And he’s whipping something more than a tuna-on-rye with a bag of chips when he invited a potential client to lunch.

Barone, who began cooking classes a few years ago at the Nothing To It! Culinary Center in Reno, undertook culinary-oriented trips to destinations ranging from Napa to Ireland, and got serious with enrollment in a cooking school in Italy.

When Barone and his son, Josh, launched Ancora West Advisors in 2006, Barone decided to combine the two passions of his life with a kitchen that would be the envy of most homeowners in the region.

It occupies about a quarter of the space in the investment firm’s office, just a few steps away from the crowded room in which traders work the phone while keeping their eyes on television monitors.

The centerpiece of the kitchen: A semi-circular, granite-topped bar at which guests and potential guests sit while Barone faces them, cooks a meal and delivers a soft pitch for their business.

Although an investment group owns the building at 8630 Technology Way in South Meadows and its traditional tenant improvements, Barone owns the kitchen improvements.

The menu at the investments firm these days might include a lemon chicken that’s a favorite of clients. Or maybe chicken cacciatore or a chicken pot pie. No matter what he’s cooking, Barone insists on high-quality organic and fresh ingredients.

Ancora West Advisors manages about $50 million for its clients. The firm sets a minimum investment of $1 million for most new clients, who pay advisory fees ranging from 1.5 percent a year for $1 million accounts to 0.7 percent a year for accounts of more than $20 million.

The majority of its clients live in northern Nevada or nearby areas of California.

Ancora Securities, an Ohio company founded by Barone’s brother, Richard, holds many of the client accounts, and Pershing LLC, an affiliate of Bank of New York Mellon, provides back-office support.

Barone, who fills some of his free hours with work as chairman of the board of the California State Automobile Association, came to Reno in the late 1970s as an associate professor of finance at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He later organized a group of investors to recapitalize Comstock Bank of Nevada, becoming chairman and chief executive officer of the Reno bank before it was sold in 1999.

A couple of years later, Barone and his son, Josh, launched Adagio Trust Co., a Reno company that provided family offices and other financial services for wealthy families. They sold Adagio to an investor group in early 2006 and launched Ancora West.