The old building that was for many years the Lake Tahoma Steak House and then later the Little Siena Italian restaurant went on the auction block Wednesday.
Wesley Gurley proved to be the high bidder in the auction with $50,000, which included the old restaurant building and the house next door to it. After the bidding was done, auctioneer John Lynn said the sale was not yet final and more details have to be worked out.
When asked what his plans are for the property, Gurley did not mention anything specific. “I’m just seeing about an investment,” he said to The McDowell News. “I’ve got a few ideas for the building.”
Gurley recently purchased the former West Rock building on West Henderson and Burgin streets in downtown Marion. He also owns some car lots in Black Mountain and Marion.
Advantage Auction Services of Hendersonville conducted the sale of the iconic building at 2050 U.S. 70 West in Pleasant Gardens. It was built in the 1950s by Bill Gibbs as the Lake Tahoma Steak House and was a very popular restaurant and roadside motel which attracted locals and tourists alike. His son Pete Gibbs continued to run the business.
Years later, the building had a second life as the home of Little Siena Italian restaurant, which was owned and operated by “Mama” Erina Wall, her husband Warren Wall and their family.
But in recent years, this local landmark at the intersection of U.S. 70 West and N.C. 80 has stood empty and unused.
The two-story brick house, which was built in 1931, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. This house is now occupied by a tenant on a month to month basis.
As of Wednesday, the entire property was still owned by Pete Gibbs. On Wednesday, his sons Page Gibbs and Thomas Gibbs and his daughter Mollie Deck and his grandchildren Honnalee Gibbs and Hannah Deck were there to witness the auction and negotiate any details about the sale.
“All of us as kids grew up working here,” said Thomas Gibbs.
The auction drew 14 people, which included the Gibbs family. Georgia Ruth Wilson, author of “The Bear Hunter’s Son: A True Story,” was there too to witness the sale. Her book tells the story of Pete Gibbs and the Lake Tahoma Steak House.
Before the bidding commenced, Lynn described both the building and the house and their condition. The former Lake Tahoma Steak House/Little Siena structure will need some electrical wiring work and cleanup. All of the restaurant equipment is gone but the exhaust system is still there. The house needs some gutter repairs and water sometimes gets into the basement.
The traffic count for this intersection is an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day, he said.
The property has been listed on the Website of Advantage Auction Services and through social media. The McDowell News published a story about the sale earlier this month.
“It’s not like people didn’t know about it,” said Lynn.
He added there were no bidders on the Internet.
Lynn started the bidding at $200,000. There were no takers. He then went down to $150,000 and no one bid at that price. The reserve was $100,000.
Then, he went down more and a handful of people started to bid. Gurley ended up as the high bidder at $50,000.
During the auction, some folks talked about the old Gibbs Motel, which still stands across the road. For a long time, this property has stood empty and apparently is still on the real estate market. The old motel and the cabins on both sides are dilapidated and falling down.
Lynn said this property is owned by a company in Florida and he can’t get them to return phone calls. This property was not included in the auction.
Thomas Gibbs said years ago his father sold the old motel to a new owner, who planned to renovate the place.
“The man who bought that from my dad had the money and the vision and wanted to fix everything on it,” he said.
However, the Gibbs family was told that this man died and now it sits there rundown along U.S. 70.
The real estate sign in front of the old Gibbs Motel lists phone numbers and an email address. A McDowell News reporter tried unsuccessfully to contact anyone using those numbers. An email sent to that address came back as “undeliverable.”