Ames aiming elsewhere | SierraSun.com

Ames aiming elsewhere

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunSteve Ames flips burgers at Ames Deli Mart in Tahoe Donner on Wednesday. Ames has owned the mart for 25 years.

After 25 years, longtime Tahoe Donner resident Steve Ames is ready to flip his last burger at Ames Deli Mart, but he’s not hanging up his spatula without a rockin’ party and a big bag of trash.

Ames, who purchased his deli with little more than a handshake in 1981, said he knows he will be missed by his customers. The deli parking lot-turned-gossip hub is akin to the counter at Coffee And. It’s where local workers and old timers regularly catch up on community happenings over the sizzle of blackened barbecue.

“Take away Steve and Christal and it was just another 7-Eleven,” said Truckee resident Don Geresy, who was the first customer at Ames Deli and is planning to be the last. “But if any organization was doing a fundraiser, you could always count on (them) to donate. This community is really going to miss them. Me especially.”

It’s been a good go, but Ames said it’s getting harder to run a thriving business in Truckee.

“We’ve had more than 500 employees over the years; we’ve seen families grow. It’s never felt like work in 25 years,” he said. “But it’s time for something different.”

Ames and his wife, Christal, said they will continue with their catering business, and Ames will continue to build custom wood furniture and coach the junior varsity football team at Tahoe Truckee High School.

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“There will be opportunities out there,” Ames said. “Maybe I’ll take them, maybe I won’t.”

Mostly he’s just looking forward to a summer on his mountain bike, and the ability to close his deli doors for the very first time in more than two decades.

But before moving on to who-knows-what, Ames is gearing up for Truckee Day, a neighborhood cleanup event Ames started in his own Tahoe Donner neighborhood more than 20 years ago.

“It grows every year because people see their neighbors get involved,” Ames said. “I really encourage everybody to get involved and do their part for the community. We’re not asking for all day ” just a bit.”

This year’s annual community cleanup is scheduled for the first Saturday in June, and the following Tuesday the Ameses will be throwing a farewell community barbecue in the sun-kissed parking lot at Ames Deli Mart.