COVID-19 makes business financially unviable
The birthplace of the Silver State’s iconic Awful Awful burger, the Nugget Casino and Diner in downtown Reno, will permanently close on July 30, with owner Rick Heaney saying that it was “economically impossible” to remain open.
Little Nugget cannot survive through the winter months”
“The worldwide COVID-19 virus pandemic […] caused all non-restricted gaming to close in the state of Nevada. The venues then briefly reopened, only to see bars inside the casino close again. That has made it clear that the Little Nugget cannot survive through the winter months,” Heaney told Reno TV station KRNV.
Heaney also told KRNV that cancellation of special events in The Biggest Little City in the World made it “impractical” for the business to continue.
Emotions running high
In a report on KOLO-TV, a dual ABC/CW+-affiliated Reno television station, Little Nugget customers expressed sadness over the closure news.
“It’s a place where everyone likes to come […] it’s going to be missed in the community,” said James McCray. Fellow Little Nugget customer Julio Rosales spoke of people coming out in support of the establishment, saying:
It just shows how much this place has influenced everybody and […] how much they actually care.”
Nevada has been hard hit by the pandemic, with it being declared a “red zone” last week after over 100 visitors tested positive. In a poignant statement flighted on KOLO-TV, proprietor Heaney said Little Nugget had “tried so hard to continue to be a long-standing tradition of locals and visitors […] but sadly, our last chapter has come to an end.”
Nevada’s burger king
The Little Nugget is synonymous with the Awful Awful burger, which earned its name by virtue of being “awful big and awful good,” according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The burger is a well-known brand. Heaney is on record as saying, “We’ve been on the Travel Channel, and we’ve had articles from the New York Times to the Sacramento Bee.”
Weighing a half pound accompanied by approximately one pound of fries or onion rings the Awful Awful burger, served on a toasted bun in a basket, features a secret sauce that Heaney told the Reno Gazette-Journal he holds “pretty close to the vest.”
While the Reno Gazette-Journal reports the Little Nugget will close to customers at 5 am on July 30, it also quotes Heaney saying he would ask Nevada gaming officials for permission to keep his non-restricted gaming license active. “It’s sad, this is the last time they’re going to get an Awful Awful,” said Rosales.