Most people have never heard of the “Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Highway.” 250 miles clear east of Reno-past Sand Mountain, past the Shoe Tree, past Austin lies the charming town of Eureka- population 700. Say what? I had more than 700 people in my graduating class in California.
A point of charm in this town is that there isn’t really a whole lot going on. No rush hour, drive-thrus, or Starbucks. But, anyone in town knows that if you want a great meal, picon, or to simply visit with a few friendly faces- you need to pull up a chair at the Owl Club. 10,434 square feet of bar, steakhouse, dancehall, and casino is a local favorite, as well as a destination for many travelers. This charming saloon holds a place near-and-dear to my heart and I can promise any visitor will leave with a smile on their face, and a full belly.
The Owl Club has been around for quite some time, but the Carrion Family have been the owner-operators since 1981. Ted and Ron Carrion were the father-son duo that took on the challenge of running a business located off the “Loneliest Highway.” Ron and his wife Betsy uprooted their 2 young girls to move to Eureka and manage the day-to-day restaurant duties. Ted Carrion was more behind the scenes managing the books and frequently visiting the Owl Club, with his wife Mary. Ted and Ron really wanted to create a great place for the small town of Eureka to enjoy a hot meal and a cold beer- and that they did. Famous items like biscuits and gravy, chicken strips, the cheeseburger, chorizo and eggs, and “the manhandler” 24 oz steak (RIP) have made the Owl Club a popular stop.
Since 1981, any of Ron’s daughters could be found hustling about the bar or restaurant. Ron’s life revolved around his girls, the Owl, the outdoors, hunting and farming. Eleny, Eshel, and Evven Carrion each went off to tackle college and careers as Ron ran the Owl and “EEE Farms.” Ron was known for his sense of humor, big personality, cooking, and this man would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.
In February of 2009, Ron’s sudden passing rocked the small town of Eureka, NV as he left his small empire and beautiful family behind. It was at this point that the Owl Club was put up for sale. Until the business is sold, the duties of running the Friendliest Business on the Loneliest Highway have been put into the hands of Evven, 28, Eleny, 36 and her husband Scooter Mentaberry.
A beautiful picture of Ron overlooks the bar, and his famous bottle of Crown Royal is a featured item. The menu also has been transformed a bit. The Man Handler has been removed, and a couple dishes- “The Hank” (a chicken fried steak and egg sandwich) and “The Peyton” (pancakes and eggs) named after Ron’s beloved Grandson’s have been added. Of course, “Ron’s Favorite” was also added which consists of 3 pieces of sausage, 3 eggs, and biscuits and gravy.
A recent change for the Owl Club has been their social media presence. In a small, small town- an online presence can affect the whole community. Evven Carrion has proudly taken the reigns with creating a Facebook, Twitter and website presence for the Owl, displaying what her Dad and Grandpa have built. So many people are thrilled to see this historical bar and steakhouse pop-up on their newsfeeds. The town of Eureka is pleased to see a representation of their community make an appearance (and cause a bit of a excitement, I might add) on Facebook.
“I remember my Dad finally doing his banking online, and he thought that he could teach me all about it! He would never admit it, but he was kind of a techy, so I’m sure he’s smiling down on all this right now. He loved keeping people connected and meeting new friends, so social media is the perfect venue for the Owl Club to grow. Eureka isn’t a very big place physically, but the history, geography, talent, beauty, potential, town folk, and story need a mic…this is the perfect stage.“
I bet Mr. Ron Carrion never would have thought he would see the day where people from across the country are interacting with his business via Facebook. Well, believe your eyes Ron! Add the Owl Club on Facebook to get daily meal specials, find out what’s going on in the community, or just to take a peek at history as one of Northern Nevada’s hidden gems is on display for the world to see.