By now, you’ve probably heard the news — and perhaps the pushback, nostalgia, wild speculation and general bewailment attending the news.
Jeffry Paine, owner of the beloved Gold ‘N Silver Inn, has sold the property to a subsidiary of Jacobs Entertainment, developer of the Neon Line District in downtown Reno. The $6.3 million deal encompassing six parcels closed on Jan. 31.
The Gold ‘N Silver opened in 1956. The Paine family (with, in the early years, a business partner) has owned the restaurant since 1962. The word icon is almost always a cliché, but not in this case.
Jeffry Paine has not publicly discussed the sale since word of it broke last week. But yesterday, he sat down with me for an exclusive discussion of why he sold (a cancer scare, in part), reaction to the deal and what might lie ahead for the property.
As an introduction to the Q&A that follows, it’s helpful to cover the basics of the deal. The transaction is governed by a sale leaseback agreement.
The agreement leases the Gold ‘N Silver property back to Paine to operate the restaurant for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years (until June 30, 2026). The lease began Feb. 1. The agreement requires the purchaser to give Paine six months’ notice of early termination.
(The Q&A has been edited for content and clarity.)
Reno News & Review: When word of the sale emerged, chatter (much of it uninformed) immediately ensued. What’s something people need to know about the sale to better understand it?
Jeffry Paine: Nothing has changed other than there’s been a real estate transaction. Right here and now, there is nothing different. All these people think Jeff Jacobs (head of Jacobs Entertainment) is running the place right now — he’s not.
Reno Property Managers (the purchasing subsidiary) are nothing but landlords at the moment. To the casual person walking in, nothing is going to look any different.
RN&R: You’ve said you began thinking about selling the Gold ‘N Silver early in 2019, although you didn’t then have a deal in place. Why did you decide to sell now?
JP: I’ll be 67 in September. My wife is turning 68 in April. On March 1, I’ll have been doing this 33 years. Before that, my father did it for almost 30 years. In April of 2020, I had a kidney removed because of a malignant tumor. That was a gigantic wake-up call that said, ‘I need to see an end to my working life.’
Also, Jacobs offered me the leaseback, and I know my employees wanted to keep working, and so, ‘What the hell? Why not keeping the business going and keep people employed for a few more years?’
(The leaseback) is a good way for me to wind down my career. This gives me a way to transition instead of the shock for me and the employees of an immediate closing.
RN&R: Why do you think Jacobs Entertainment offered you a leaseback instead of taking immediate possession of the property?
JP: I think Jeff Jacobs wanted to secure the property, but he wasn’t ready to develop it.
RN&R: What’s your reaction to people who are upset about the sale? Like the trio of women holding protests signs on Saturday outside the restaurant?
JP: My honest feeling is, it’s a vocal minority. The vast majority of comments to me personally, people were very congratulatory and said change is inevitable and they didn’t view it as a bad thing — while also being sorry to see the restaurant eventually go.
RN&R: Do you feel some people almost expected you to keep the Gold ‘N Silver open no matter what? Until you dropped dead mid-brunch?
JP: Some people, yes. We have been part owners, and then owners, since 1962. We have provided thousands of jobs and served our customers well. I think the Paine family has done our duty to Reno.
RN&R: Do you know what Jeff Jacobs ultimately plans to do with the property?
JP: I don’t know what his intentions are. I can’t tell you what he’s going to do in two years (when the minimum lease term ends).
RN&R: What about speculation Jacobs Entertainment might turn the property into a casino?
JP: The Gold ‘N Silver has an unrestricted gaming license for machines only. The license was included in the sale. I have never been incentivized to expand the gaming beyond what we have. Jeff Jacobs has the resources to expand the gaming, should he choose.
RN&R: What about talk you could open the Gold ‘N Silver somewhere else?
JP: I am not moving to another location. Whenever the lease ends, Jacobs gets everything: the furniture, fixtures, the gaming license, the brand, whatever I want to leave here. He will have the rights to the brand and the building and the logos — it’s his. If he wants to carry on, he can.
RN&R: So when you’re gone, you’re gone. Any thoughts on retiring, even if it’s at least two years away?
JP: The employees have made the business. The customers have made the business. It hasn’t been just me. We wouldn’t have the business we have without the employees and customers. I have enjoyed every minute of it.