90 years: From Prohibition “Ice Cream Parlor” to Casino-Restaurant
Dini’s Lucky Club stands as Nevada’s oldest continuously-run, family-owned casino
How does a fire at an ice cream parlor with an Backroom Bar and Gaming lead to Nevada’s oldest continuously-run family-owned casino?
Yerington’s Dini Family has the answers which led to 90 years of operation as what is now the Lucky Club.
Their story begins in Bodie, California where Giuseppe and Elvira Dini operated an ice cream parlor. Few knew the business also featured an backroom bar and gaming. But, alas, a fire engulfed the town in flames, turning everything but 5-percent of the operation to ashes.
The Dinis decided to return to their roots in Yerington, Nevada to start all over.
The result 90 years later? Dini’s Lucky Club, now the oldest continuously-owned family casino operation which is loaded with history, culture, and a diverse environment.
Dini’s has been a part of Yerington’s Main Street since Giuseppe “Joe” Dini Sr. was licensed after prohibition in October of 1933, operating as The Wooden Shoe Club. Elvira, Giuseppe’s wife, prepared her famous roast beef sandwiches on Sundays for their customers.
One noteworthy historical note highlighted over the years came in 1911 when American professional boxer and heavyweight champion (1919-1926) Jack Dempsey helped his uncle lay the floor in the business while training for a fight in Goldfield – a part of the floor is still being used today.
In 1938, Guiseppe bought the neighboring Meat Market building which today hosts the Mystery Nook. They moved from a location that was just to the south. Additional property purchases over the years permitted the business to grow.
Joe Dini Jr. returned home in 1952 from college to help his father with the business and he purchased the building from his parents in 1960. Five years later, Joe Jr. bought the buildings north of the casino (The Service Shoe Shop and Yerington Auto Parts) and turned those areas into what is now known as Dini’s Restaurant. The restaurant started as a Pizzeria and later grew into a full-scale restaurant operation. In 1972 the Keg & Kandle Lounge opened in the back of that building which is the current location of “Giuseppe’s Steak House.
Joe Dini Jr. was the longest serving assemblyman in Nevada history serving 8 times as Speaker of the House.
Dini’s became incorporated in 1982 and the name was changed to Dini’s Lucky Club Inc. The next step in expansion was to buy the Nevada Drug in 1988 and expand the casino that now holds over 145 slot machines. Another purchase came in 2000 when the neighboring Mason Valley News building was purchased and is now known as “The Cellar”. Throughout that expansion process, the old store fronts that existed on the buildings downtown were restored.
Joe Jr.’s sons, Jay and George, purchased Dini’s Lucky Club in 2007 from their father.
Now the fourth generation of the family are taking the reins with the help of the fifth generation. The generations may have changed, but the family strives to continue its promise to keep the same integrity associated with Dini’s Lucky Club established by their ancestors in October, 1933.
As Dini’s enters its 90th year as an integral and beloved feature on Main Street, the family can say with pride: “We have grown and expanded to continue to meet needs of residents and visitors alike over the last 90 years and have shown that by earning five Best of Yerington awards in December of 2005, giving scholarships to the high school graduates, hosting Yerington’s Main Street Car Show and several other community events, and continuing to donate food to youth groups and high school sports.”
To think, it all started with an ice cream parlor in Bodie, California.
Dini’s Lucky Club 90th Anniversary Celebration scheduled for October 28th, 2023:
Photos provided by Dini’s Lucky Club of their 90th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, October 28th, 2023: