Incline's newest eatery and cocktail lounge called Nevada Jane (formerly known as Gus’ Open Pit Barbecue) is now open, and welcoming people to try its quality street food-inspired cuisine and upscale drinks that are sure to tantalize the palate.
Jonas and Nellie Saia bought the restaurant in late August of last year and kept it open as Gus’ to keep the staff employed as they prepared for this transition. Nevada Jane is the couple’s fourth restaurant in Incline Village, first acquiring Austin’s in 2014, then Tomaato’s in 2016 (and reopening it as Fumo in 2019), and then Cool Mess - a coffee shop/ice cream parlor behind Austin’s.
Jonas has been in Incline Village for 19 years, working for almost a decade of that as a bartender at Lone Eagle Grille and attending Sierra Nevada University. He eventually got a job as a business broker which gave him the opportunity to learn how to successfully take over and run a restaurant in a unique place like Incline Village. Last August, Jonas’s former boss at the business brokerage told him that there was a business for sale in Lake Tahoe but wouldn’t tell him what or where in the Basin it was.
After signing the NDA agreements and learning that the business for sale was Gus,’ the Saias became thrilled about the prospect of obtaining it.
“We were very excited…it was close to our other restaurants, and we were looking for another investment,” Jonas says. The Saias took over Gus’ in October of 2021 and converted it into Nevada Jane just a few weeks ago.
Jonas had collaborated with chef Henry Nol, who he met through his brother, who focused on sustainable seafood and bringing interesting street food into a restaurant setting. Nol helped the Saias with the transition of their other restaurants and launch Fumo and is now on a more permanent basis with Nevada Jane. Jonas loves buying restaurants but credits his wife Nellie for coming up with the menus and managing the frontline work.
Jonas himself has worked in restaurants since he was 14 years old, and he loves barbeque, but he didn’t want to own just another average BBQ joint…the couple wanted to bring a new twist to southern cooking and put their own branding on it. When they go on vacation, they get inspired by street food and distinct cultures, and work to fold that vibe back into their dining establishments.
“It’s been good; we changed the furniture, added late night food, and we’re now open until midnight on Friday and Saturdays,” Jonas says. The fact that they are open so late on the weekends is huge, as most places in North Lake Tahoe are closed by 8 or 9pm.
They also brought in tasty cocktails over from Fumo. Just ask Nevada Jane’s office manager Lisa about the restaurant’s jalapeno-infused tequila with citrus and muddled strawberry signature cocktail.
“The cocktails there remind me of some of the best ones I’ve had in San Francisco,” she says.
“It’s a fun drink to try. And after going to the city and coming back and having a place to go later in the evening is so nice,” Lisa adds.
“People want to get dinner later now, and we want Nevada Jane’s to be more of a restaurant/lounge,” adds Jonas.
Lisa, Jonas, and I start sharing stories about the former iterations of Nevada Jane’s (back when it was the Mexican restaurant Esmeralda’s and what locals called the dark and spooky bar upstairs), that is also supposedly haunted.
“We burned a lot of sage to get rid of the ghosts,” Jonas chuckles.
“Nevada Jane has great potential. This energy…” Lisa says, giving us both an air hug in the room as we laugh and share in nostalgia, “…is what we want there. It’s a local’s place, but it’s for everybody else, too. There are good things going on there and I hope people will embrace this change. There’s a lot of excitement and energy put into this. And Jonas and Nellie do a good job of bringing in the right vibe.”
“We’ve been working on this for nine months. Fumo was a fun project and this one will be even better,” Jonas adds.
When asked why they enjoy being members of the IVCBA, they reply, “It’s a collaboration. We participated in the Sip & Shop and Northern Lights events with all our businesses (Gus’/Nevada Jane, Fumo, Austin’s, and Cool Mess), and it’s great to keep up with what’s going on and have the support of the Association,” Lisa says.
“It’s nice to see things happening here, and everyone come back after covid,” Jonas says.
Visit Nevada Jane in person at 930 Tahoe Blvd in the Raley's Center or online.