Bacchi’s celebrates 75 years of tradition
In a community facing redevelopment at almost every corner, remnants of old Tahoe are few and far between. Bacchi’s Italian restaurant in Lake Forest is one such landmark.
The restaurant opened in 1932 and is the oldest restaurant on the North Shore remaining under a single ownership, said William Hunter, the restaurant’s manager.
Hunter is a third-generation descendant of George and Josephina Bacchi, who opened the restaurant 75 years ago.
The Bacchis’ great-grandson, Everett Hunter, is managing the restaurant alongside his father and will continue the family tradition as the fourth generation to oversee the dining establishment.
“He’s learned all his great-grandfather’s recipes,” said his mother, H.H. Hunter.
The restaurant’s 75th birthday comes at a low point in its history, William Hunter said. With shifting economies, new competition in the villages at Squaw Valley and Northstar and endless regulations, the restaurant is experiencing one of its tougher years, he said.
“Old Tahoe disappeared a long time ago,” William Hunter said.
Sicilian immigrants George and Josephina Bacchi passed through Ellis Island in 1902, and settled in Tahoe in 1928. They spent their summers at the Lake renting a fruit stand in front of the Tahoe Inn, which now houses the Blue Agave in Tahoe City. The Bacchis spent their winters in Sacramento, running a freight line.
Times were different back then, William Hunter said, reminiscing about the hot summer days he spent water-skiing on the lake, stopping by every single pier to visit with friends and neighbors, or meet someone new.
“People were really friendly back then,” he said.
Josephina Bacchi was famous around the lake for her Sicilian-style soups, raviolis and pastas, William Hunter said. She cooked for the wealthy families in the area.
One day, Mrs. Knight of the Vikingsholm Mansion in Emerald Bay suggested she open a restaurant. At that moment, Bacchi’s was born.
The restaurant flourished and has since seen many days. The old building withstood the biggest winters and charmed countless guests, including Lucille Ball and Clint Eastwood during his “Rawhide” days.
Though Tahoe may have changed for better or for worse, Bacchi’s intends to stay around. A few minor business adjustments will be made, but the restaurant will maintain its classic old-Tahoe charm, Everett Hunter said.
“We’re still kickin’,” he said. “We’ll be here as long as Tahoe has us.”
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