Business Hall of Fame Inductee: John Ascuaga

John Ascuaga

John Ascuaga

John Ascuaga is known as one of Nevada's most prominent businessmen. He moved to Sparks, Nevada after graduating from college and opened the Nugget Cafe, where his business and community ties have grown exponentially.

After an honorable discharge from the United States Army, Ascuaga went on to the University of Idaho for his bachelor's degree in accounting and then Washington State University for an additional bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management.

John Ascuaga's first taste of the resort industry took place while he was working as a bellman at a lodge in Idaho while he attended college. Soon after graduation, he met restaurateur Dick Graves, from whom he would later inherit the Nugget Cafe.

When Graves retired in 1960, Ascuaga took over the Nugget and is now sole owner and operator of John Ascuaga's Nugget. Under his guidance, the Nugget has grown from a small coffee shop to one of Northern Nevada's largest casino-hotel operations.

It was in the Nugget's Steak House that Ascuaga met Rose Ardans, his future wife. Together, they built John Ascuaga's Nugget into the major resort destination in the Reno area.

All of John and Rose's children are an integral part of what has grown into a 1,658-room hotel, with eight restaurants, 84,000 square feet of gaming area, and 110,000 square feet of convention space.

For more than a half-century, John Ascuaga and the Nugget have awarded college scholarships to support his commitment to higher education, making it one of the longest-running programs of its kind in the state. Every May, since 1956, Ascuaga has presided over the Nugget Scholarship Awards, in which the top high school students in northern Nevada are inducted into a Hall of Fame that is available for viewing just off the lobby of his hotel.