Our story begins on old Highway 40 in the late 1930’s in the home of Italian immigrants John and Elvira Casale. John had come to Northern Nevada from Lucca, Italy to work the railroad and had only written to Elvira on the advice of his sister who was sure they’d be a perfect match. When Elvira immigrated from Genoa, Italy to marry John, she made the journey with her ravioli presses, rolling pins, and family recipes.
The Casales worked and lived on the Coney Island Dairy (present-day El Rancho and Prater) until John became ill and could no longer work. The family (now with two small children, Inez and Jerry) moved up the road to present-day East Fourth Street, a property picked because it was on high ground and would not flood. To help make ends meet for her family, Elvira ran a small roadside fruit stand outside of their family home where she also sold her handmade ravioli. As the demand for her ravioli grew the Casales brought their business indoors and converted the front room of their home into a small market, the counter standing where the bar stands today.
By the mid-1940’s, John and Elvira converted their home into a dine-in restaurant where homemade Northern Italian fare was served to the families of Northern Nevada for generations. John and Elvira’s children Inez and Jerry, along with their spouses Casmir “Steamboat” Stempeck and Beverly Block Casale, became the future of Casale’s Halfway Club. When Elvira passed away in 1967, the recipes and traditions she began in 1937 continued with her children and grandchildren. When Inez lost her husband Casmir in 1969, she was left with six children ranging in age from 20 years to 18 months old. She did the only thing she knew how to do and picked up her mother’s rolling pin and continued the family business, with the help of her brother Jerry and sister-in-law Beverly.
Inez raised her six children (Charlie, John, Madaline, Tony, Helen, and Maria) here where they earned gas money by making ravioli or grinding tomatoes for sauce. Every member of the family has worked in the restaurant at one time or another, but she ran the show. “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy” became the family motto. She was Mama Inez to the generations of customers that came through the doors for over 50 years. Inez’s son Tony (third generation) spent years helping Mama Inez run the business, but she was still the boss. Many will remember that whenever Mama called Tony always answered the phone, “Hi Boss”.
Mama Inez passed in September of 2020 at the age of 93. Just three weeks later Tony passed at the age of 63. After these unbelievable losses, the family found comfort in doing what Mama taught them – picking up the rolling pin and going to work. Tony’s sister Maria and his daughter Haley run Casale’s Halfway Club today with the help of Jerry and Beverly, Inez’s many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and our dedicated friends who are family. Homemade raviolis are still made daily with Elvira’s ravioli presses and rolling pins. Lasagna made from scratch and meatballs rolled by hand are the law of the land here. These traditions and recipes have been passed down through four generations and counting. When you walk through our door you will always be treated like family. We hope you’ll sit back, relax, and enjoy your homecooked meal. As always, thank you for stopping by.