Wired on Landrum’s

The garish little blue-green box of a building there at the corner of Virginia and Arroyo now stands vacant. For years it’s been the home of U.S. Auto Title, but the real reason any of us “old-timers” remember the place is that it used to be known as Landrum’s.

I became familiar with the king of Reno greasy spoons during the years of the great Cocaine Tsunami, which rolled into Reno in the late ’70s and got down to some serious septum-strafing in the early ’80s. Reno took to cocaine like a yeti takes to chapstick. And why wouldn’t it? The perfect drug for a “24-hour town.” Go go, toot toot, drink drink, party party. And gee, looky yonder, the sun’s comin’ up.

At times, it seemed as though ground zero for all this Belushiness was Landrum’s. Yes, it was a 24-hour joint, but the times I recall occurred during the wee hours, when approximately 100 percent of the patrons were loaded on a trifecta of pot, booze and coke. My estimate may be slightly high, but not by much. In those days, excess was king. And sooner or later, you’d roll into Landrum’s at about 2:30 a.m., hopeful of finding one of those eight stools vacant so you could take your place in the firing line for one of Daisy’s nuclear-fueled chili cheese omelets.

Ah, Daisy. One would be right on target to affix the phrase, “a piece of work” to this legendary cook/waitress. To get a seat, order your chili cheese, and then take a bit of abuse from Daisy, who was usually in a semi-surly mood, if not completely misanthropic, was the essence of the Landrummian experience. You’d be crabby too, one would suppose, if you had to cook eggs all night long for a bunch of giggling wired cretins whose non-stop witty repartee wasn’t quite as brilliant as they imagined. Emphasis on non-stop.

And those omelets. A foodstuff to be both respected and feared. They were good goin’ down, especially when you were wasted and famished, but you also knew that come the next afternoon, a price would be paid. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything that was as downright ornery as those chili cheese omelets as they marched Sherman-style through my plumbing, setting numerous intestinal Atlantas ablaze along the way. Daisy should have just gone ahead and spread a layer of Pepto-Bismol on top of those bombers.

Now, that little blue-green box stands vacant. And modern passersby have no idea that, for a few years anyway, this was the place where Reno’s version of Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting came to life in its own peculiar way.