The name "Reno's Roadhouse" has a fairly lengthy history in Burnside.
The small regional chain of steakhouses opened a restaurant in the then-new Stonebrook Pavilion along South U.S. 27 in 2006, only a couple of years after Burnside's groundbreaking vote to allow alcohol sales in restaurants — the only such community to do so in Pulaski County at that time. The sleepy little hamlet on Lake Cumberland had suddenly seen a flurry of interest from eateries in locating there, and Reno's — then with eight locations across Kentucky and surrounding states — was one to make the move. (Prior to that chain ownership at the time, there was a Reno's in Somerset in the late 1990s as well.)
Even though it was financially solid, especially early on — the opening of the Burnside location was the chain's most successful ever — that incarnation of Reno's closed in 2009. Reno's carried on other places in Kentucky, however, including Danville, where Wendell Spigle, the father of Lincoln County and Eubank-area native Gary Spigle, was operating a 17-year Reno's franchise.
"(The Burnside) building had sat empty for awhile," said Cristy Whitaker, Spigle's sister and bar manager at Reno's in Burnside. She said a party was being sought to re-open a restaurant in that space, and "Gary said, 'I'll do it.'"
Thus, Reno's returned to the shores of Lake Cumberland in November of 2015. The restaurant chain, which came out of eastern Kentucky, currently has four locations — Burnside and Morehead in Kentucky, Wise, Va., and Logan, WV. However, the franchise focuses on local owner-operated restaurants, so even though its a chain, the people most invested in its quality and well-being are part of this community.
"It is a family-oriented restaurant," said Whitaker. "We do our best to try to take care of every single person who walks through the door, every time — whether it's their first time or any time."
Like most businesses in Burnside, a good part of its business is tourist traffic in the summer.
"A lot of them come in while they're in town," said Whitaker, noting that Ohio Navy visitors who have discovered the restaurant often make a point of coming back year to year.
But even just in the community at large, Reno's has developed a loyal following that carries it throughout the year.
"It seems to be (popular)," said Whitaker. "We stay pretty busy."
Of course, Reno's has the atmosphere with the buckets of peanuts on the table and antler chandeliers, but as far as the menu, the star is the steaks. Featuring USDA aged beef, options ranging from chopped steak, filet mignon, and New York strip are available, but Whitaker said the favorite here is the ribeye.
"The filet medallions are a top seller as well," she noted. "We feature prime rib on the weekends."
Also a big hit — unsurprising in lake country — is the catfish. "It's fried or you can get it grilled and blackened," she said.
Shrimp, ribs, pork chops, and plenty of chicken dishes, like the Southwest chicken and Darlin's Skillet O' Chicken, piled with sauteed onions and peppers round out the menu, along with a variety of burgers and sandwiches.
There's a large selection of appetizers to choose from as well. The boneless wings and Durango cheese spuds are among the most popular, said Whitaker, as is the Spanish Rosebud — think the large fried onion dish that blooms open.
Reno's may have had a bit of a stop-and-start history in Pulaski County, but Whitaker is sure that the third time is the charm, with the potential to last in the area for a long time.
"For a building that sat empty for a while, and someone decided to try to open a restaurant there, everyone (in the community) has received it very well," said Whitaker of Reno's. "There are people who do business with us over and over. To be the kind of place people like to come to, it means a whole lot."