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O Tannenbaum

Judith Harlan

The Christmas Tree Restaurant has sat empty and quiet long enough.

A group of Reno event planners think it’s time its doors were open again, and they’re going to make it happen.

The planners Gunter and Michelle Nobis and in-laws Christian and Julie Nobis all run event businesses in northern Nevada.

Gunter and Michelle Nobis own and operate Props to Go; Christian Nobis runs Creative Coverings, and Julie Nobis has Red Carpet Events.

They are event planners in search of a stage.

The Christmas Tree Restaurant offers that stage, albeit one that’s a bit tawdry about the edges and in need of a challenging list of repairs.

Reno, Sparks and Tahoe all offer event venues, says Michelle Nobis.

But there are never really enough in the area, and besides, the group has had a dream of having their own event center, one they can design the way they want it, one they can use for their own events, but also one that they can rent out to other planners.

The group formed a limited liability corporation and bought the historical restaurant and its four acres in July for a $600,000 price tag.

The vision for the property, says Michelle Nobis, encompasses a major renovation that turns the restaurant into an events center the Tannenbaum suitable for weddings, anniversaries, banquets and events of up to about 250 people.

It’s going to take some work to reach that vision.

The group has taken the first step, auctioning off the restaurant’s used chairs, tables, bar top, antique pot-bellied stove, even its front doors.

They’ve taken the second step, hiring Incline Village architect Phil GilanFarr to draft life into their ideas.

The design focuses even more than before on the building’s panoramic view ofWashoe Valley.

The Tannenbaum will have a drive-up entrance (porte cochere), an interior entrance area centered around the building’s signature rock fireplace, an open beam ceiling, and a downstairs bride’s dressing room.

To get from here seen the movie,”The Shining?” to there, an elegant-rustic event center, is going to take until spring, the group estimates.

And that estimation is based on interior construction work continuing steadily through the winter.

The business plan for the Tannenbaum includes personal investments, construction loans, and other possible financial streams.

Marketing has already begun, says Gunter Nobis.

The group is busy putting the word out amongst area event planners that the Tannenbaum will be open and is taking reservations for the spring 2005 season.

A selling point, adds Gunter Nobis, is that the center provides facilities for catering and bar drinks but does not require food and drink purchases.

All will be catered by the events themselves.

Partly that’s because the cost of bringing the restaurant kitchen, which has been dormant for more than two years, up to code, is prohibitive.

But also, says Michelle Nobis, event planners appreciate the freedom not to use a center’s food and beverage services and staff.At the Tannenbaum, they will have that freedom.

The center is currently in the permit stage, with some interior demolition begun and construction bids out.

The hope is to have the building reroofed and the front entrance built before heavy winter hits.