Blue Agave in Tahoe City closes after 27 years
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – The main drag in Tahoe City hosts an array of businesses that cater to locals and tourists alike, and one of the staples that once lined North Lake Boulevard is the Blue Agave. After 27 years in business, the margaritas and Mexican fare restaurant many know and love, has closed its doors for good.
Blue Agave owner Steve Topol reflects on the ownership of the restaurant and posted on Facebook in mid-June showing appreciation and reminiscing on the last almost three decades of time as owner of the establishment.
“To our valued guests and friends, we want to thank all of our wonderful guests and employees for supporting us all these years, we could not have done it without all of you,” the social media post read.
The restaurant closed its doors for food in mid-June, and the bar remained open until June 30 for their famous margaritas and to commemorate almost 30 years of history as a community staple. Like many business owners, the past two years have presented challenges that many haven’t ever come across.
“I’ve done my best, I’ve worked my hardest, [but] times have changed since Covid hit,” Topol said. “The cost of business and lack of employees has made it incredibly difficult to stay alive as a restaurant. It’s not something that I wanted to happen, but just had to embrace it.”
As a lifelong local himself, Topol is full of his own rich Tahoe history, and reflects on the beginnings of his time as business owner of the restaurant and the building.
“I was born and raised in Tahoe City, so when the opportunity presented itself to purchase the business, I took it,” Topol said. “That was back in the early 90’s, and I purchased with the intention of a Mexican restaurant; and with the big blue lake right across the street, there wasn’t a better fit, and the Blue Agave was born.”
The building where the Blue Agave was located is one of Lake Tahoe’s most historic buildings still standing. In the mid-1800’s, the building was built to serve as the Tahoe Inn, a local hotel and restaurant for guests; but the inn also served as an unofficial town hall, being home to many local service organizations. At the time, the original inn had served many visitors as one of the only cheap places to sleep in Tahoe at the time and was even home to a Prohibition-era speakeasy.
While the building is a historical landmark in Tahoe, the Topol family has had roots in the property since the 1970’s. In 1974, Steve Topol’s late brother, Peter Topol, bought the building in hopes of developing a retail center and steakhouse, and the property then became home to the famous steakhouse chain, Victoria Station from 1974 – 1985.
The property on 425 North Lake Boulevard has been home to many businesses over the years and is full of stories from previous owners, and so is Topol. As a lifelong local, he has devoted his all to the Tahoe City community, both professionally and personally over the years.
“Tahoe City is such an amazing place to be, it’s something you can’t experience unless you’re here,” Topol said. “I met my wife spending my summers working at Hearthstone, which is now Rosie’s Café. Spending my summers in the 70’s working right on the lake with all my friends and my now-wife, it really doesn’t get much better than that.”
In fact, with Topol being in the restaurant industry for decades, he’s worked almost every job in the industry, allowing him to give the utmost appreciation to all segments of his restaurant operation, rather than just being a business owner.
“I’m actually a lawyer by trade, but I really like more interactions with people that are overall positive, so when the opportunity came up to take this position on years ago, of course I took it,” Topol said. “When I came back from law school I was involved in business, but I kept getting pulled back into the restaurant side of my life, so when this opportunity became available, I gave it a shot. 27 years later, it’s had an amazing run full of unforgettable memories.”
Looking forward, the building that the Blue Agave has called home for decades has since been purchased by Evolution Projects, a Seattle-based real estate developer that works to seek out new opportunities to create special places in desired neighborhoods or regions and further build on the characteristics that make them special.
“I’m not 100% certain as of yet what they’re going to do with the property,” Topol said. “But they’re truly a great group of people, I couldn’t be happier to hand it off to them. I know they’ll do big and great things in Tahoe.”
The Blue Agave will go down in Tahoe history as one of the most memorable restaurants and was a business that truly highlighted not just Lake Tahoe, but also the local community. As Topol heads into this new transition in his life, he reminds himself of the most memorable moments over the past 27 years that made it all so special.
“My staff and the customers made this job worth coming to work every single day,” Topol said. “The Blue Agave was a local hangout and our interactions with the customers, the staff, the bar patrons, and of course our locals were by far the most memorable and most fulfilling for me.”
The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sun.
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