Sometimes being the best in town isn’t good enough. That was the case with Moody’s Bistro Bar and Beats. Perfectly situated near Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows and Northstar, it spent its first decade as the fine dining experience in historic Truckee on the north side of Lake Tahoe. This meant white linen tablecloths, catering to loyal second homeowners and other tourists, and three digit checks for a table of two.
“It was the perception that we were more toward the high end,” said JJ Morgan, who has run Moody’s since its inception. “We thrived being that high end spot, but the economy is decidedly different now.” Morgan tinkered with the concept in the last few years to try and keep up with a struggling economy, but Moody’s stigma as expensive held it back from pulling in locals and a more causal crowd with any regularity.
So with new investors in tow, Morgan closed down the restaurant at the start of winter (he must’ve known that Tahoe was going to have one of the driest early seasons on record) and reinvented Moody’s, which reopened in mid January. Gone were the tablecloths, replaced by gorgeous wood tables. The bar area was opened up to create a more festive atmosphere, wines were put on tap and a kitchen upgrade included a pizza oven.
The result was a transformation from an upscale bistro to something decidedly more casual. The bar area is now a major focus, with tasty pizzas, pastas and other approachable and shareable snacks drawing in a huge après ski crowd. It’s now not uncommon to see folks still styled out in their ski pants at the bar, a sight rarely seen in the restaurant’s previous incarnation.
“We’ve made our bar way more bustling,” Morgan said. “Now we are way busier at lunch and après—not just dinner.”