Owning several hotels on Idaho Street for more than 30 years, Barry Bhakta and his family contributed to Elko through their business and by participating in events and bringing their Indian culture to the community.
Barry Bhakta was born in Fiji, Feb.18, 1958, three decades after his grandparents immigrated to the island from India. He grew up with his brothers Nick, David, Mike and Chuck.
Upon graduating high school, Barry spent a year in Auckland, New Zealand, before he and Nick arrived in the United States. Interested in studying to become a CPA, Barry moved to Texas, while Nick purchased the Holiday Motel in Elko through Realtor Adolph Lipparelli in 1977.
Barry married his wife Jessi on March 16, 1981 in Dalhart, Texas. Moving to Elko, they purchased the Best Western El Neva, now the Rodeway Inn, on April 1. They raised their children, Henry and Tejal, as they built their business.
Becoming involved in the community, Barry and Jessi sponsored events such as Elko High School’s Graduation Night, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Mining Expo. “We help the best we can,” said Barry.
Barry also joined the Elko Rotary Club, the Elko Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority Marketing Committee. In 2011, he was chosen to fill a vacant seat on the board.
The family also brought their culture to Elko. Jessi and other family members have performed traditional dances and cooked Indian meals and desserts at various events including the Great Basin Festival, Just Desserts, and, in 2015, hosting Rotary International’s guest speaker Deepa Willingham.
Seeing Barry’s and Nick’s success in Elko, their brothers moved to Elko and purchased their own motels. Today, Chuck owns the Days Inn, while David operates the Economy Inn and Mike runs the Scottish Inn, formerly the Key Motel.
Over the years, the motels have been successful thanks to annual events such as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Mining Expo and the Motorcycle Jamboree. Three times, the Bhaktas were awarded the Gold Medal for Choice Hotels in 2010, 2015 and 2016.
In 1999, Barry and Jessi added the Comfort Inn to their business and became partners in the Super 8 and Travel Lodge motels with their son, Henry.
The Bhaktas continue sponsor Elko events and operate the Rodeway Inn, which was recently presented with the 2017 Platinum Award for Choice Hotels.