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Lonely weekend on Victorian Avenue
by Garrett Valenzuela
Sep 22, 2012 | 5380 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo/John Byrne  --  A motorcyclist rides down a lonely Victorian Avenue Friday as Street Vibrations begins heating up in downtown Sparks. The event has been contain to The Nugget parking lot this year, leaving much of Victorian Avenue empty.
Tribune photo/John Byrne -- A motorcyclist rides down a lonely Victorian Avenue Friday as Street Vibrations begins heating up in downtown Sparks. The event has been contain to The Nugget parking lot this year, leaving much of Victorian Avenue empty.
SPARKS -- You can only hear motorcycle engines revving from outside the front doors of local Victorian Avenue restaurants, which are adapting to the change in venue for Street Vibrations this year.

Instead of seeing thousands of bikes parked up and down Victorian Avenue, and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts come through the doors of their businesses, restaurants and bars like Cantina Los Tres Hombres, Great Basin Brewing Company, O’Ski’s Pub and Grill and Paddy and Irene’s Irish Pub are witnessing a major change: an empty street.

“I haven’t seen the motorcycles passing by. It used to be constant motorcycles going by and now we don’t have any,” said Jaime Marin, manager of Cantina Los Tres Hombres. “Most of them would be hanging out here or at any of the restaurants and now you hardly see any.”

Marin said Street Vibrations brought hundreds of motorcycles, parked on the streets and cruising along Victorian Avenue, outside of the Cantina last year, which inevitably brought the restaurant more business throughout the weekend. Though he said it was too early to tell, Marin said the effect Street Vibrations has on the Cantina comes with any downtown Sparks event.

“In downtown Sparks, every event we have there is traffic from customers passing by and that is very important for us,” he said. “We live off that. If we didn’t have any of that traffic, we would be dead. Last year (the traffic) was a little better, but now it seems like everybody is staying at The Nugget.”

Marin said the weekend business and revenue during Street Vibrations does not compare to completed summer events like The Nugget Rib Cook-Off and Hot August Nights, where the restaurant will place a beverage booth outside the restaurant while handling customers inside for food simultaneously. Though Marin acknowledged the moving of the event to be contained by the Nugget property, he said the weekend looks promising.

“We expect to be busy because even though they are having the event pretty far from us, we are still going to get some people,” he said. “Not everybody wants to stay in that environment by the casino and it showed last night when we got quite a bit from down there. It just wasn’t much compared to last year. I don’t know if that is going to affect everybody or just us, so we’ll see.”

Street Vibraitons will be contained to the West parking lot of The Nugget and will be controlled under its new “no colors, no weapons” policy. Local riders stopping for lunch on Victorian Avenue Friday said they couldn’t believe how empty the street looked compared to last year. They continued to say the event would be different this year, but it would only take a little time to become accustomed to it.

Cindy Pisiewski, owner of O’Ski’s Pub and Grille on Victorian Avenue, said she heard some bars and casinos in downtown Reno were going to adopt the “no colors” policy for the weekend. When asked if she would be asking her customers to do the same, she said business would take a turn for the worst.

“For me to do that, personally, I am saying don’t come into my bar. If I do something like that it means my regulars can’t come in here and go with what they normally wear,” she said. “You’re almost turning business away at that point and you have hope that people learn and will be responsible. “There are always a few bad apples at every event, no matter what it is. A lot of our customers are bike riders and (the ‘no colors’ policy) insults them.”

Pisiewski said she felt that The Nugget’s choice to move the event and fence it in was understandable given last year’s deadly shooting inside the Nugget casino that killed a Hell’s Angel’s president. She said the pub would have loved the business of a five-day event, but understands that motorcycle enthusiasts would not give them too much attention as the nights grew longer.

“Those people are not going to come in here and drink a bunch then go out and hop on their motorcycle with a thousand cops out there,” she said. “We don’t set up a tent for beverages because we know that, just like during Hot August Nights, unless they are staying overnight at The Nugget it would be stupid to go drink and drive.”

Pisiewski said her business thrives most when downtown events happen on Victorian Avenue, citing Hot August Nights and the Nugget Rib Cook-Off as the summer money-making events. As the summer comes to a close, she hopes to inspire people to come downtown by putting on their own events on a much smaller scale.

“We are going to try to keep things going during the winter with our Octoberfest,” she said. “When it comes to being downtown, to really receive all the benefits you have to be the host of the event.”
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