CommRow Media Day Photos

by Mike Van Houten / Sep 29, 2011

I stopped by CommRow today for media day. It was my first time seeing CommRow this close to completion, and though work was still being done here and there, I could really grasp the concept of how this could easily be 'the' spot to hang downtown. Highlights for me were the first floor eateries, each unique in its own flavor and decor, and also the climbing wall itself, where I got to watch a guy named Luke climb all the way to the top of the wall (see photos below). This wall is tall. In fact it's a rush to watch people climb it. I think Harrah's and their plaza just scored big time on this one. It was mesmorizing watching the climbers ascend this mammoth wall. People stopped on the sidewalk below to watch.

So check out the photos below and be sure to come down this Saturday for the grand opening!


CommRow Media Day Photos

Post your comments
  • September 30, 2011 - 9:18:02 AM

    Impressive work has been done there. Let;s hope the people start coming in droves. Reno needs this concept to pan out!

  • October 2, 2011 - 11:46:48 AM

    I was down there for opening day. The atmosphere was very good. I talked tot some of the wait staff, they are psyched! It will only be better once they open everything up and finish the detail work! But what will it take to get the Reno/Sparks local 'negative nellies' to get off their butts and venture downtown?

  • October 2, 2011 - 7:01:02 PM

    Impressed by the "bar/food court" layout with all the different bars and styles, reminds me of old Reno Live but more welcoming, open, perhaps a bit too bright late at night, then add the nice upscale food venues. Really great concept. Only gripe is being served wine in a plastic cup and 12 ounce plastic beer cups for drafts. Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. That's not a grand opening, that's a cheap opening. Dishwashers not installed yet???

  • October 5, 2011 - 12:14:35 AM

    Shootings near the ball park, in the casinos and your option to the out of town visitor is to climb a wall. Swing and a out of towner who will switch to Tahoe. Good Luck........You need it.

  • October 5, 2011 - 8:27:23 AM

    Funny you mention that out of towner, because the gang that did the shooting was actually from Kings Beach Tahoe, so have fun with that.

  • October 5, 2011 - 9:10:29 AM

    Love, love, love Ron H's post. Well written.

  • October 5, 2011 - 10:04:22 AM

    Greetings Out of Towner. A climbing wall obviously appeals to a small niche of outdoor adventure lovers. Tourists are a small slice of CommRow's demographics, the others being 20,000 university students and of course locals, the majority who don't really like hanging out in smokey casinos. I would be interested in hearing what you feel Downtown Reno is missing, or what you'd like it to offer. Always good to hear from outside the box.

  • October 6, 2011 - 9:55:31 PM

    What? There's a university 1 mile away from Comm Row? Maybe they'll go to it? What? people wanted something new downtown (with no smoking)? What? That unfortunate rival bike gang shooting during the motorcycle event was the first one in a casino ever? No worries, I'll still be hiding under my bed. It's a scary world out there everybody!! It's smarter to to be scared.

  • October 7, 2011 - 4:26:04 PM

    Seems to me that the amenities have low pricing points, which will require large numbers of users/purchasers, in order to create enough income for the project to cover employees and other overhead. It will take a great number of climbing ticket sales, fast food and drink sales, and bar patronage to cover the operating costs plus a modest return on capital deployed. The pictures look inviting, I hope this venture succeeds. Constantly changing the performances with consistent marketing may help fill the various venues.

  • October 9, 2011 - 10:32:49 PM

    Hey out of towner.... "Two masked men walked into the USA gas station about 10:30 p.m. Saturday and pulled a large handgun on the clerk,demanded money and left without further incident, South Lake Tahoe police said Sunday Three other patrons were in the store at the time of this robbery, however, no one was injured. A police K-9 unit was used in the search but to no avail. The suspects are described as follows: Suspect number 1, armed with handgun, was wearing a light colored hooded jacket, baggie blue jeans, black shoes, black gloves and a black face mask. He was described as having a large build, about 5-9 and had light olive colored skin."

  • October 11, 2011 - 11:12:32 AM

    I've returned to CommRow, and it's becoming apparent to me that they're cheap. The bars are all using 1oz jiggers to measure out their shots. Most of the bartenders are new to the business too. This is unfortunate. I realize they need to cover initial cost, but when you open, you need a great first impression, free pour drinks, and perhaps later after you get a crowd, squeeze costs and be cheap by using 1 oz jiggers. And ditch the acrylic beer cups geez. "The Stand" is also not working. This is Reno not Chicago. We don't stand and eat resting our elbows on bars. The floor could be painted something else than warehouse concrete white. Other than that, I do enjoy the overall venue, and the service staff are quite friendly. The security could relax a little and smile once in a while, it's not Freight House (haha).

  • October 11, 2011 - 10:17:31 PM

    Blake, your post was forwarded to me by one of our team members. First and foremost thank you for taking the time to provide us with valuable insight. The goal of my response is to address some of your comments and to share changes being made daily to improve the overall experience. Opening this many venues at one time has been quite challenging, exhausting and very exciting all at the same time.
    This last weekend we passed out hundreds of specialty drinks and food samples from the various venues. It made for a very fun festive environment that I heard many describe as a "Costco for adults". This does not excuse the warehouse looking floors that will be redone in the very near future. Regardless, I will discuss your concern regarding the pours with all of our bartenders, some of who are new to the business but genuinely excited to be involved with the project. They were selected because they understand and believe in our vision for downtown Reno. As for the plastic, that is an insurance requirement given the climbing and the very large outdoor decks.
    I could not agree with you more about "The Stand". It was a fun idea that ended up making the venue look closed. We added chairs last Friday which had a very positive impact. I also totally agree with your comment about the security. Our location is great in many ways due to the foot traffic generated from neighboring venues ranging from the Knit and ballpark to casinos. However, it also lends itself to a very diverse crowd some of which fall into the undesirable category. Our patrons safety both perceived and real is paramount to us. We will continue to work on making people feel welcome, until they are not, without the hard ass attitude in between.
    Thanks again and please keep letting us know how we can improve. I can assure you that we are our toughest critics and will continue making constant changes to earn your continued support. Fernando Leal

  • October 12, 2011 - 12:08:36 AM

    Wow, Blake, you got a response from the big man himself! Firstly, if Nando has the oppertunity to read this, I would like to assure him he is not his own worst critic, I believe I hold that position. I abhorr the loss of Fitzgeralds, as well as the Flamingo/Golden Phoenix and the annex (old Primadonna) next door to Fitz, as well as the jobs that were eliminated with the closures. As the name suggests, I am older, perhaps not ancient yet at 45, but still older than the target demographic for CommRow I am pretty sure. I smoke, gamble and have been known to whine through the years, so obviously I am not the target audience for this place. I do like the "fun" focus this project has. Although I will not be a part of it, I do applaud the way that the building has been integrated to the town. I too had occcasion to visit CommRow this week, unfortunately it was closed both in the early evening and the noontime hours I was there, and there were no posted hours I could find. I was able to peer in and view the changes that were made inside as well as the outside of the building. The interior to me seems cold, with odd segregated mini bars, which to me seem odd and uninviting, but again, not my scene, perhaps climbing non smoker non gambler non whiners like this sort of thing (can you tell I was a little put off by the sign no smoking, no gaming, no whining? are all smoking gamblers whiners? maybe I'm being too sensitive) I agree with Blake the concrete floors are in need of some kind of treatment, which I saw is to be addressed. I am impressed that there is still neon and the "twinkle light" lighting has been retained, as well as the marquees. I have always been a fan of the unique feel of Virginia street that these lights give. I did notice some of the lights were missing or not working, which also matched the Reno arch neon which also was partly unlit. That is the extent of my trip report to CommRow. Nando appears to be transitioning from a trendy developer to an inkeeper of sorts. He might do well to familiarize himself with the current tourist in Reno; take a few outings during the weekend and event periods to the casinos just to see the type of people currently visiting the town. There are non smoking areas in the casinos and bars, do they attract alot of people? Or does it seem people tend to smoke when they drink? I couldn't say, I smoke. Although it is great to draw new types of folks to his attraction, perhaps attracting some existing tourists would help bolster sales in the short run. Also good first impressions are key, as Blake said. You can always go cheaper later, but upfront, you absolutely need to "Wow" your customers! Also, inkeepers need to interact with their clientele. Nando's posting here is a good beginning. I hope he continues to show his concern. Now if he will just open the old Primadonna as a casino again, maybe we can be friends.

  • October 12, 2011 - 7:23:58 AM

    His name is Fernando Leal. Not "Nando". CommRow looks like it's trying not to be a casino - which is something downtown Reno really needs right now. Show a little respect.

  • October 12, 2011 - 8:34:42 AM

    The hours were a bit confusing to me too. If the rock wall is open, you would expect the first floor stuff to be open too, it's hard to discern if the place is open or not when peering in. Posting some hours-open signs on the outside of the building would make a difference.

  • October 12, 2011 - 8:51:38 AM

    Not a fan of the concrete floors either. But unlike old Johnny, I went to a couple of the shows at night, and during the night the place is really active. It was my first time in the building I could not find the escalators. The staff is the friendliest I have come across in Reno. No attitudes, lots of smiles, good at cracking jokes. I went into Orale depressed over a break-up and left happy. That's a good bartender. The people managing the employees seemed 'toody and a bit lost. When I was sitting at Orale I saw the bartender using his own money to give out change because no one came by to check on them. That's uncool. Those are my constructive criticisms. I don't rock climb but enjoyed the music and food. I'll be coming back to try Lemony.

  • October 12, 2011 - 10:33:32 PM

    Oldjohnny be praised! I'm not old, and I don't smoke........And yes I miss all the places you named. I'm tourist and choose Reno for vacation over Indian casino destination. Can Reno honestly say they are better under the development of Fernando Leal? Reno 911.....Respect has to be earned. Yes, Reno has to develop away from Casinos, but incorporate them, not condemn them.* (see posting) That is still a source of business. I'm one of the customers along with the half dozen of my friends who still venture to Reno four times a year. That being said there are still good thing happing. Love the work of the team that has opened the Imperial Lounge and Granite Street Grill, the renovation of the Riverside and Silver Peak. Can't wait for Campo! These are good starts. As far as Comm Row success? Well... Not my cup of would really work if the concept was applied to the Cal-Neva in North Lake Tahoe though. Man a climbing wall with lake views. Downtown Dude. As for suggestions for Out of Towner.....please see mine *Posted by: Reno Fan - 5/24/2011 10:59:43 PM . Please keep up your work for the Reno Downtown.

  • October 22, 2011 - 3:13:22 PM

    I was in Reno last weekend and had an opportunity to see Comm Row up close. It is no secret that I am not a fan of this mess but I vented my thoughts a ways back and have waited in silence to see it in person. However even I was shocked at how utterly ridiculous it is in person. Every aspect of the the project looks slapped together, low budget and unfinished. The food court has all the ambience and charm of the basement cafeteria at a community college and reeked of burnt cooking oil. The marquee is cheesy and amateurish and the supports for the primer grey platform protruding into it complete the spray-can vibe it exudes. The pigeons are already roosting inside it. We went upstairs and the bar was empty but there were 2 adolescent boys hurling profanity and wrestling on slack line. Nobody on the boulders. Bartender reading the paper. Did I mention the bare concrete floors? Yikes!! And I assume by the looks that there was no money left to at least clean up the Old Reno and Golden Phoenix. The exterior of the Fitz looks pretty mangy as well. The climbing wall is cool but in the 4 days I was there (and I walked by it an average of once or twice every couple hours) I saw a grand total of 4 people that I could verify were not employees on the lower portion. I saw nobody on the upper wall the whole trip. In fact I went inside everyday at different times just to see and each time there were more employees than customers. Good if you sell Ferraris I guess but not so much if you are schlepping $15 climb passes and frozen yogurt. I suspected this to be a cheap Hail Mary and I was not disappointed. Nando is already trying to scare a couple extra months reprieve to buy the garage so maybe he has another master plan involved. Or maybe Centric and Cargo can keep it afloat. It will be interesting to see how many aged rooms they can sell in the spring considering all the specials and packages offered across the street. Good luck with this.....Nando has bamboozled Reno again. So flame away spin meisters! It's not finished yet! Give it a chance! At least it's something open! Well sure, I guess those are all good points so I'll disappear again and lurk in silent awe of all things Nando and those that worship his vision. For now I have to go lay odds on who will fold first: The Siena? Or Con Row?

  • October 22, 2011 - 3:42:45 PM

    This place is an absolute clusterfuhhh ... and what looked like a joke on paper is even worse in person. There's not a single real human being (as opposed to digital cheerleaders on this site working for lord knows who) that has seen this project and not had the same reaction. The only debate is whether or not they can make it an entire year before having to close. Well done, Downtown Reno, well done.

  • October 23, 2011 - 12:05:47 AM

    I wonder if the above two commenters botheredto try any food or see a concert there? Judging a project only on its looks is pretty lazy and amateur.

  • October 23, 2011 - 7:53:29 AM

    Actually I did try some of the food and it was fairly decent. I didn't have a chance to checkout any concerts though or their club. The real problem is the space itself and the depressing, desperate vibe of being in there. With the opening of Bowl last night (really good) and Campo about to open (really excited), CommRow's downtown food offerings just aren't enough to make a difference ... sorry to be so down on the place and non-constructive, but I don't know how you save this one.

  • October 23, 2011 - 10:22:50 AM

    Sorry Melissa, I have to disagree with you on the judgement of a project by it's looks. Although possibly lazy, it's human nature to judge the looks of any project, and give first impression judgement. The wow factor of the wall is there, but Nando is going to have to really work on entertainment to make the rest of the place turn heads, as well as a profit. I hope the project succeeds, for Reno and DTM Mike. Good to see your post AKB!

  • October 23, 2011 - 2:46:37 PM

    People: It's Fernando! Say it with me: Fer-nan-do. Seeing as I'm pretty sure none of you are personally know the man, your cutesy little nickname comes across as patronizing and a little unhinged. I do agree that both the interior and exterior of the building need some work. However I think that the strength of the food offerings, Cargo (which is a seriously awesome venue)and the wall are enough to carry it until they start on the next round of improvements. If they manage to do even half of what's planned to the garage, it's going to attract plenty of different demographics to the complex. Plus with the weather starting to turn, I don't think that we'll be seeing too many people on the wall until the Summer outdoorsy season starts up again next May. It's unfortunate with the timing of the opening, but pretty explainable.

  • October 25, 2011 - 7:43:59 PM

    Well I guess I'm not the only one who sees this as a albatross. I looked at it on my last visit, and was not impressed. Per my last posting, this kind of alternate sports hotel would be better suited in Tahoe, like the Cedar in Truckee. The website states “no-frills chic HANG Hotel” with “the ugliest wallpaper in town”. This means they did not renovate any of the rooms. And the Lucky lane lounge is a “homage to Old-Reno class”. Man, renovate the Fitz! At one time that was Old-School Reno. I think they are aiming for a look and style that has been better executed by the folks at the Imperial Lounge and Midtown Eats. Try those venues for places that are thought out and may want to consult them. And if you want a true “Hang Hotel”, visit the San Jose motel in Austin, Tx. ( And some one apply that concept to oh, I don't know, how about the KINGMAN! in downtown. Look what the Kimpton Group has done in SF.

  • October 25, 2011 - 8:38:46 PM

    I've been in CommRow a couple of times now. Some problems: (1) it really reminds me of an airport food court, small airport bars included; (2) it is impossible to determine from outside when driving by whether the operation is open or not; (3) despite driving by nearly every work day around 5pm I don't think I've ever seen anyone on the climbing wall.

  • October 26, 2011 - 11:57:42 AM

    Tom's point #2 -- "it is impossible to determine from outside when driving by whether the operation is open or not" -- is something I've had issue with, along with most people I've discussed CommRow with. Recently they took to putting a few chairs and tables outside on the train trench side, and a few out on the empty balcony above, as if to say "hey, we're open over here" but it just looks sad ...

  • October 27, 2011 - 1:00:29 PM

    People are being excessively negative. How can you tell that the Silver Legacy, Cal Neva or any other buildings are open or not from the outside? It's a casino building hello reality check. I can tell Commrow is open because when I walk by it, their doors are literally open. I go on their web site and view their hours. Easy. Do you want a big tacky flashing open sign? Do you actually need to be led like a baby to that degree? They haven't even been open a month. Seriously, get over yourselves. You all take a quick walk through and slam down the judgement gavel. How many of you saw a show here or bouldered? I would like to hear from other climbers. I actually rock climb and have been to CommRow 4 times now climbing. It's understandable why if you didn't climb you might not have an interest. But I've also attended a show or two here which were really fun.

  • October 27, 2011 - 1:44:43 PM

    Hello commenters! Pardon my absence in this heated discussion on CommRow. I was on vacation. Still am! Allow me to address some people's comments; 1. Campo and Bowl will most likely be a higher price point than CommRow. When I attended the focus group for CommRow it was mentioned University students are one of three primary targets or users or whatever they are referred to as. 2. In reply to Daniel, it is difficult to see when Commrow is open or not in comparison to the other downtown casinos you mention becuase casinos and hotels are traditionally open 24 hours. They always have their marquee lights on even during the day. But, the hours are posted on the site, and I don't think CommRow is relying on random walk-in traffic. Most people I know make it a habit of checking an establishment's hours before heading out, whether it's a band's start time or when happy hour is or when dinner starts, particularly when most downtown restaurants outside of casinos have odd hours. CommRow is particularly odd in that it doesn't open until after lunch. But I doubt a lot of business traffic would travel that far north downtown for lunch. I think when the hotel opens it will alleviate some confusion. 3. Except for the concrete floors I don't have any issues with CommRow's interior. I don't feel anyone here is taking into account the cavernous space Commrow has to work with. 4. To those blasting the Montage, it's sold over 150 units thus far all cash deals, and if it were any other property downtown (i.e Arlington, Riverwalk etc) it would be sold out. They are now offering financing as well. Moreover the people who live there truly love it. 5. Open discussion like this is good but let's try to keep from attacking one another. I pride myself that my comments section isn't like RGJ's and every comment thread turns into ObamaCare.

  • October 27, 2011 - 9:25:33 PM just going to their site I see a lot of events happening there. IMO Comrow is event-centric and the food venues are secondary. Having the worlds largest climbing wall is a way to get people to notice the establishment as a whole and for boulder heads having a bar and food nearby is a nice plus.

  • October 28, 2011 - 7:08:01 AM

    IF there is no cost item to be covered based upon return on capital deployed, and debt service is minimal or non-existent, then selling a significant number of amusement tickets and fast food in quantities can probably cover personnel costs plus a profit factor. There is not much of a margin in low end food items, although there is in specialty beverage sales. It seems to me that you would need a significant volume of both of these components to add to the net income from amusement tickets (climbing, bouldering) in order for the aggregate to make this project profitable. To do this, an inviting schedule of live music entertainment events and effective marketing will be important. Getting people into those lounge venues and selling them drinks and bar-type snacks will be important. The key to such sales will be an appealing line-up of shows, varied music formats, and local marketing. I personally don't think the amusement zone activities will be critical capital factors, although everything helps. Economic success will turn on a substantial and consistent volume of drink and fast food sales, year-around. I have represented bar, restaurant and club owners over many years, they all tell me it is a tough business, table turn and consistent volume are the keys. I hope the project succeeds. Certainly it is better even now at inception than having an empty building there.

  • October 28, 2011 - 9:49:53 PM

    I drove northbound on N Virginia 2 days ago at about 5:40 PM. I looked up at CommRow, there were 2 climbers up on the frontage. There were no lights on them. I think they need some floodlights.

  • December 21, 2011 - 2:52:19 PM

    Just heard that CommRow fired all of their managers and chef. Any other updates about this train wreck? Maybe it's time to replace the big "CommRow" link you have on the homepage with something a little more positive?

  • December 30, 2011 - 10:10:09 PM

    I have thought it over for hours and I really want to take Sara Lee out to one of the upcoming Comm Row concerts. C'mon babe ... I'm here on my knees to try to make you happier!