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home : business : business July 27, 2015

4/15/2014 1:38:00 PM
Bronco Billy's has new owners
Bill, Mathew and Tammy Falconer will greet Bronco Billy customers as the restaurantís new owners. photo by Jim Fisher
+ click to enlarge
Bill, Mathew and Tammy Falconer will greet Bronco Billy customers as the restaurantís new owners. photo by Jim Fisher

Bronco Billy's, in the historic Hotel Sisters building, has new owners.

Bill and Tammy Falconer, owners of Pilot Butte Drive In and Pilot Butte Drive In West Side, both in Bend, purchased the business April 1 from long-time owners John Keenan and John Tehan. Ownership of the building remains with the Reed family.

"Purchasing this business seemed like a good decision since we were already in the restaurant business," Bill Falconer said. "We are very fond of the Sisters community and wanted to have a presence here in Sisters when this opportunity came along. I have always enjoyed operating icons like the Pilot Butte Drive In, and certainly Bronco Billy's is an icon here in Sisters."

"We are looking forward to becoming acquainted with our customers," Tammy said. "In this business, your clientele become your friends."

Because the couple has enjoyed the feel of older-style restaurants, they plan few changes except some building maintenance and an expansion to the menu.

"The restaurant name will remain the same. The menu will become a mix of what has been offered here in the past and what we serve in Bend. We did see an opportunity to increase sales by bringing breakfast in, so we plan to do that by around the first of June," Bill said. "We will provide a good product by shopping quality instead of price just as we have done with the Pilot Butte Drive In."

Many of long-time employees will continue to work at the restaurant and bar. Some worked for 20 years and longer for Keenan and Tehan, including restaurant cook Kris Winkle, bar manager Justin Wolfe, and others. Kris will be spending time at the Pilot Butte Drive In to become familiar with menu items to be added to favorites of Bronco Billy's, including fish tacos and steak sandwiches.

"The building is in remarkable condition considering it is 102 years old," Bill said. "The kitchen floor was starting to sag so it has been strengthened. We are upgrading the kitchen equipment and we plan to improve the dining area without losing its ambiance. Our landlord, Mike Reed, will have the building repainted. The City of Sisters urban renewal fund will help fund the repainting of our outside signs."

The Falconers also plan to replace the outdoor wooden deck with a patio of pavers, and install outdoor fire-pits. They will continue to use tenting on the patio to extend the summer season. The upstairs rooms will still be available for private parties and meeting rooms with food being available.

The Falconers have felt close to Sisters for a number of years. They have long admired the historic buildings and the way the community has developed. Their home in the Plainview area is actually two miles closer to Sisters than to Bend. While Bill has lived in Central Oregon for 25 years, Tammy is a native resident of the region. They purchased the Pilot Butte Drive In from the original owners in 2007.

"Since this was our first restaurant, we asked the original owners to stay on for three months to train us to run the place they had because we didn't want to change anything that has been successful," Bill said. "They stayed on for three months and showed us every little thing that made the business successful."

They opened the Pilot Butte Drive In West Side three years ago this June, in a more modern setting. While it does not have that old diner feel, the menu is the same.

Because they live in the Sisters School District, their son, Mathew, has attended school here from kindergarten to his present fourth grade.

"We have followed closely his participation in school and the events," Tammy said.

"He probably will become part of this business in the future," Bill said.

Bill and Tammy became acquainted with Keenan and Tehan by being frequent customers of Bronco Billy's.

"When they saw my Pilot Butte Drive In cap, they asked if I was the owner." Bill said. "I hadn't seen anything about the business being for sale and learned they were thinking about selling. I indicated that I would be interested in the business, but heard nothing for quite a while until I saw it listed in the business section on Craig's List."

The Falconers believe the current reconstruction project on Cascade Avenue will be a great improvement. It will attract many visitors this summer to view the completed work. Once they see the improvement, they believe they will enjoy returning.

Bronco Billy's will continue to support the many successful events in Sisters including the Sisters Rodeo, Sisters Folk Festival, and others.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 6, 2014
Article comment by: suzanne pepin

Bronco Billy's generous contribution of incredible ribs for the Mayor's Ball/ Food Bank and Furry Friends benefit won us over. We plan to eat there often.

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