My family moved to Boulder City in 1978. In many ways, it’s still the same small town that greeted us 45 years ago. But little things have changed, including the location of many restaurants, businesses, and public gathering places.
An artist’s rendering of 1991 Boulder City surrounded by then-current business cards hangs in the hallway outside our law offices. Once or twice a year, I’ll stop to take a closer look and remember when.
For instance, do you remember when the Elaine K. Smith building was a satellite branch of Community College of Southern Nevada? And before that when it was originally the New Life building?
How about when Desert Sun Realty did business next to McDonald’s and wasn’t even owned by Bret Runion but instead by former Mayor Bob Boston? Then Bret took over, moved it to the Silver State Bank / Nevada State Bank plaza, and later to its current location near the old drug store where Sherman’s Antiques and The Dillinger now are.
The Boulder City Library has moved around, too. In the 70s it was located where the police station now is. Then it found a new home in the current Senior Center building. And ultimately ended up in its current location next to ABC Park.
You can probably tell from the signature shape of Chicken Shack’s building that it was originally a Sonic Drive-In. But between Sonic and Chicken Shack, that property changed hands so many times that I began to wonder if any new business trying its luck there was doomed to fail. A frozen custard stand is just one example among many. Fortunately, Chicken Shack seems to have broken the curse.
The current Cornish Pasty space at 1300 Arizona Street is another location that seems to have been haunted by a decades-long curse. It was a frequented ice cream and soda shop called The Bottling Plant in the early 1980’s. Later, it became Carlos’ Mexican Café, another local favorite. Numerous others have made short-lived attempts there. A decade ago, The Scratch House completed a beautiful art deco remodel and created significant buzz before shuttering for several years beginning in 2015. Hopefully the extended vacancy has chased the demons away, bringing in a harbinger of better things to come.
One location that’s been a lucky charm rather than a curse for budding restaurants is Momo Sushi’s current space at 561 Hotel Plaza next to Reuben’s Toys and Dance Etc. It’s a small establishment with limited seating, which might just be a perfect recipe for a start-up eatery. Carlos’ Mexican Café opened and became popular there in the 80s before making the move to the larger 1300 Arizona Street venue in the 90s. But an even more successful BC mainstay got its start in Momo’s space before Carlos’ did. Do you remember which one?
That’s right . . . The Pit Stop, which eventually moved and has now been an icon in the old Von’s shopping center for decades.
Adjacent to the old Von’s grocery store is the space now occupied by the 99 Cent Store. But do you remember when it was Thrifty Drug Store? In the 70s and early 80s when I was in junior high, we would ride our bikes there to get Thrifty’s famous ice cream scooped with a cylinder scoop rather than round one. Double Chocolate Malted Crunch was one of my favorite flavors. Later, Thrifty became Sav-On and then CVS before CVS moved to its current location across the street.
Many other businesses have played musical chairs or changed hands in revolving door fashion over the years. Southwest Diner used to serve its customers in the Little City Grille building. Chilly Jillyz used to be a plant nursery and garden center. Snap Fitness in the Albertson’s shopping center was once a Hollywood Video and maybe even a Blockbuster Video. Come to think of it, Anytime Fitness was once a video rental store as well.
Only two restaurants that I can think of have had ultimate staying power in Boulder City. They’re both fast food chains still doing business exactly where they were when I arrived here in 1978. That dynamic duo is none other than A&W and Jack in the Box. Any bets on whether they’ll still be permanent fixtures here 45 years hence in the year 2068? That seems improbable, but you never know.
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Some of you old timers have been here a lot longer than I have. So, please write in and share some of your memories, too. It’s fun to periodically take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with you.