Historic Garage Being Reborn As Casino

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MINDEN, NV - The C.O.D. Garage opened its doors for business in 1911 and over the next 80 years operated at its location along U-S 395 at the edge of Minden's downtown.

It drew its name from the initials and nickname of the owner, son of Carson Valley's founding family, Clarence Oliver Dangberg.

Mechanic "Brick" Hellwinkel worked his way up from mechanic to partner to sole owner by 1938. Two succeeding generations of Hellwinkels followed operating the place until the business was sold in 2003.

That left Robb Hellwinkel and his mother, Marlena, with an iconic building in need of a future.

"Our first priority was to keep the existing structure because we care about Minden," says Robb Hellwinkel. ":It was very important to do that."

The solution that made it possible was conversion to a casino and guided by Fallon based gaming executive Scott Tate, that's what's happening.

Both mother and son worked at the garage. Every corner here holds memories, some you might not expect.

It once housed and cared for the cars of guests at the Minden Inn across the street including celebrities like Clark Gable.

"He would park his car here and my husband would wash and shine and polish it for him," remembers Marlena Hellwinkel.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but the concept is already clear.

While most new casinos begin with a search for a theme, this building came with one that was ready made.

"It had all the elements built in," says Robb Hellwinkel. "The marketing the structure and its identity."

The C.O.D. Casino will wear its history proudly. The original brickwork, windows and the big wooden timbers have been retained, along with what were once outdoor signage long since enclosed by past expansions.

One area will feature a museum of sorts with vintage vehicles including the garage's signature piece, its old tow truck which will also be reflected on its new exterior sign.

The canopy on its Esmeralda Street entrance will be rebuilt, vintage gas pumps installed underneath.

Inside a surprisingly expansive interior there will be a meeting room, a bakery themed restaurant and, of course, the casino floor.

And everywhere you look there will be Carson Valley and Automotive history.

While the Hellwinkels retain ownership of the property, the gaming license and operations will be held by Tate, who has casinos in Fallon, Fernley, Silver Springs and Carson City.

He says he expects to staff the place with 40 to 60 new hires.

The Grand opening date has not yet been set, but when that day arrives, the C.O.D. Garage will not only rejoin the downtown Minden business community. It will do so as a living part of its history.