By Richard Stephens – Special to the Pahrump Valley Times
BEATTY — “I’m a romantic,” says Rupert Bragg-Smith. “Virtually everything I do is with passion.”
Bragg-Smith’s current passion is converting the former NAPA auto parts store and garage in Beatty into a restaurant-saloon-meeting place he calls “Fallen Angel.”
A few years back Bragg-Smith began a radical change in the building’s appearance. The bright blue metal shell of the building has been covered in brick, and wooden trim completes the look of an 1800s structure.
The project was interrupted when the Canadian citizen returned briefly to Canada and was told he had overstayed his visa and would not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. for three years.
Once back in Beatty, however, he poured his energies into completing the building. He says the NAPA building was structurally sound and well insulated, and the mechanic bays provided space for his cars and Harleys.
Asked why a person would create another bar in a small town with so few residents, he says it is much more than that. It already features a stone fireplace and a billiard table. He says he will have space to host bands and hold dances.
“I love to dance,” says Bragg-Smith. “Dancing is a big part of my life. It keeps me in shape.”
He also plans to incorporate a restaurant, drawing on his upbringing by a mother who had her culinary training in France and was in charge of international food for a Canadian airline. He says the fare will include steaks and “almost European-style food.”
“I’m not going to have gambling,” he says. “No slot machines. They take away from the atmosphere of conversation.”
“I’m a high-end kind of guy,” he adds. He describes Fallen Angel as “an 1880s period saloon — more high-end than an old West saloon.”
He chose the name because of the area’s mining history. It is meant to reflect the era in which the women in the mining town brothels were referred to as soiled doves or fallen angels.
“My interest is not to take away from the existing businesses in Beatty, but to add to the culture and the history that people come from all over the world to see,” he says.
Bragg-Smith has a love of history. “I was born in a house in England that was 16th Century. In Canada, we lived in a Georgian house.”
The bar in Fallen Angel, which Bragg-Smith plans to build himself — he’s an avid woodworker — will resemble bars of the late 19th Century. Wood for the bar and some of the fixtures are being salvaged from the Ramona Hotel in Tonopah.
Bragg-Smith says that he likes Beatty, “because it is not spread out and it has history. People from Beatty stop by and wave and give me stuff I might need. They’re really nice.”