Iconic Poor Red’s in El Dorado reopens

Three local residents have brought the historic “Poor Red’s” back to life. The Genovese brothers, Mike and Jeff have brought aboard Mike Hountalas, owner of the Purple Place in El Dorado Hills and part-owner of the Cliff House in San Francisco, to begin an adventure in renovating Poor Reds.

People came from all over California to enjoy three things at Poor Red’s: great barbeque, their famous Golden Cadillac cocktail and great company. The three partners worked hard negotiating the purchase of Poor Red’s along with the property, the buildings and the business name. The restaurant had been closed and was in need of desperate renovation.

Poor Red’s is located in the town of El Dorado on Pleasant Valley Road at Highway 49. Originally constructed as a weigh station for Wells Fargo, it previously operated under the name Kelly’s Bar from 1927 until 1945. Poor Red won the bar in a game of dice, and he and his wife and bookkeeper Rich Opal took it. The murals currently on the walls of Poor Red’s were installed in the ’40s. They depict former employees and patrons, including their dog, which used to sit out front. It is rumored his dog ran for office, but he lost.

Mike Genovese, his wife Barbara of 27 years, and two kids Tommy, 23 and Nikki, 20 have lived in Sacramento since before marriage. Mike, founder of Genovese, Burford & Brothers, felt that reviving the iconic “Poor Red’s” would not only be an exciting adventure but also a great feast for the locals who have grown up with many exciting life passages at Poor Red’s.

Jeff and Tamara Genovese have been married for 33 years, and have two girls, Melissa, 30, Jennifer 27 who grew up in El Dorado Hills. Jeff, the president of the Volunteer Fireman’s association and a retired volunteer firefighter for El Dorado Hills, has many great memories at “Poor Red’s.”

The two brothers worked as beer truck drivers to put themselves through college. They have always enjoyed the presence of a local great establishment where people can enjoy great food& drinks around local friends.

The Genovese brothers have been regulars at the Purple Place Bar and Grill in El Dorado Hills, and have seen the entire process that the Hountalas’ have done to turn that iconic establishment to a fantastic family friendly restaurant and sports bar. They will be working with Hountalas to bring Poor Red’s back to life as it was in its hay day.

Growing up in the restaurant business, Mike’s family has owned the Original Cliff House in San Francisco since his boyhood. He started working as an egg cracker at 7 years old and was promoted to double egg cracker within the year! He has worked every facet of the family business, doing dishes, busing table, hosting, maintenance and serving, eventually running the 180-employee business for several years.

Hountalas’ specialty is running multi-facet restaurants. As director of restaurant operations for the Kimpton Group, a national hotel and restaurant management group, he ran several restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as Salt Lake City, Denver and New Orleans, including all of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel operations. He ran such icons as Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, Scala’s Bistro, Kuleto’s and many more.

Eventually Randy Paragary, a pioneer of the Sacramento restaurant scene, brought the Hountalas family to the area where Mike joined the Paragary Group as director of operations, running all his restaurants including Paragary’s Bar & Oven, Esquire Grill, Café Bernardo, K Bar, Centro, R15, Monkey Bar and the opening of Spataro.

With Hountalas’ vast restaurant experience and the Genovese brothers’ local perspective, they are excited to unite for the venture of the year.

The partners renovated the interior structure of the historic portion of the building, keeping it intact, while heavily reconstructing the remaining portion. They gained more seats, a new kitchen, bathrooms, office, and patio area. The emphasis is offering great food specializing in ribs, chicken and steak and a fun iconic bar brought back to present day’s local dining and drinking expectations with the history’s ambience intact.

—By Poor Red’s

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