December 13, 2018 09:35 AM
(ABC 6 News) -- For nearly 50 years, the Branding Iron Supper Club has served up meals to hungry guests from its hillside dining room overlooking the city of Preston. Now, its owners are calling it quits and closing the doors unless a new owner steps up to keep the business running.
Current owner Steve Bahl began working at the Branding Iron in 1971 as a busboy.
"I was 15 years old and I thought I wanted to come up here and work so I applied," he recalled.
Bahl eventually worked his way up to chef before the opportunity to buy the club came up in 1989. In the years that followed, he and his wife Allyson as well as their four kids have all taken on roles with the club.
But the winds of change began blowing a few years ago, and Bahl knew he wanted to take on a new adventure. Two years ago, the Branding Iron hit the real estate market, but no new owner has emerged.
After talking it over with his wife, Bahl decided to close the restaurant at the end of dinner service on January 19. He announced the closure to staff earlier this week before Allyson posted a farewell message the restaurant's doors and its Facebook page.
"We decided we were going to make the move because we do want to make a change," he said. "We hope it doesn't close and we hope somebody does make an offer and take it over."
Longtime waitress Bonnie Hahn spoke fondly of her nearly two decades as a waitress at the club, at times appearing to fight tears as she spoke about the family atmosphere she had come to know.
"I was kind of devastated because I so enjoy working here and I hate to... I've got lots of good friends up here," she said.
The closure eliminates a dining option from the town of 1,325, leaving few choices for those looking to grab a bite to eat in town.
"I waited on some ladies yesterday and that's the first thing they asked is 'Where are we going to go eat now if this closes?'" Hahn said.
Bahl remains optimistic someone will step up and keep the doors open, but even if they close permanently, the memories will remain.
"We're just going to try to do a great job all the way through the 19th of January so I can look back and be happy with what I've done," he said.
Updated: December 13, 2018 09:35 AM
Created: December 12, 2018 09:29 PM
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