Lake Tahoe entrepreneurs come full circle with purchase of historic restaurant

It’s a Hollywood ending in Lake Tahoe. Two friends who met years ago while bartending at the historic Cottonwood restaurant in Truckee have now purchased the establishment. Chris St. Martin and Ryan Dierks started the West River Hospitality Group in 2014, an idea they had while they both worked at Cottonwood.

“It’s like a dream come true,” says Dierks, “this is where it all started. It’s like coming home.”

The pair first opened Truckee Tavern with the idea of bringing a wood-fired steakhouse to Truckee. The vision was to offer a high level of food and craft cocktails, but still retain a fun atmosphere like the one they experienced as young bartenders at Cottonwood.

They recently expanded with another restaurant in downtown Truckee, the Mexican-themed Como. Now, with the purchase of Cottonwood, they have come full circle.

“We want to bring Cottonwood back to the community,” says St. Martin, “bring it back to that meeting place where everybody feels welcome.”

West River Hospitality Group has also promoted Truckee Tavern’s executive chef, Josh Dinsmore, to Corporate Executive Chef. He will now oversee kitchen operations and mentor the teams at all three restaurants. Some other highlights of additions and changes at Cottonwood:

  • A revamped and refined dinner menu
  • Happy Hour all night on Thursday
  • Live music in the fireplace room every Friday
  • A new bar manager and bar team
  • A brand new beer garden complete with bocce courts overlooking historic downtown Truckee

Cottonwood Restaurant

Cottonwood is located on the grounds of the historic Hilltop lodge, overlooking downtown Truckee and the Truckee River. It was hand-built from salvaged railroad ties in 1928 and featured one of the first mechanical lifts in the nation. Hilltop lodge hosted a number of winter festivals and exhibitions in the early 20th century. After several iterations, Cottonwood restaurant first opened in 1989. It was purchased by the West River Hospitality Group in 2021 and now features an elevated dining menu, a full bar with hand-crafted cocktails, free live music on Fridays, and in warmer months, an outdoor beer garden with bocce courts.

To learn more about the history of Cottonwood visit their website:

Source: Cottonwood

Cottonwood is located on the grounds of the historic Hilltop lodge, overlooking downtown Truckee and the Truckee River.
Provided photo
Chris St. Martin
Ryan Dierks

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