Oroitzapenak Basque Oral History Project
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John Ascuaga
Joseba Etxarri
Sparks, Nevada

   John Ascuaga

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

John’s father, Jose, came to America in 1914 from Orozko Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains.  John’s mother, Maria, arrived soon after, and they settled in Notus, Idaho.  Their firstborn child was Carmen, then Frank, and in 1925 John and his twin sister, Rose.  The children attended school in the area.  When John graduated high school he entered the army.  After his honorable discharge John went on to the University of Idaho for his bachelor'’ degree in accounting and then Washington State University for an additional bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management.

The original Nugget in Sparks opened in 1955 and was known for serving the best hamburgers in town.  It was in the Nugget’s Steak House that John met Rose Ardans, his future wife.  John together with his wife Rose built John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel/Casino into the major resort destination in the Reno area.  John maintains a truly family operation.  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.

Hear Interview (Audio Files in English)
John's Biographical Information (6:52)
Basque Traits (7:00) 
The Nugget (1:59)

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