Partners Craig Trumbull and Bonnie Nation announced their plans for the new Brandin’ Iron Restaurant this week, purchasing the building at 483 Shoshone Ave. from Sharon Lange in a deal scheduled to close on July 15.
“She’s been incredible during the transition and to work with,” Trumbull said of Lange, “enabling us to keep a lot of the employees and allowing us to meet and talk to them so we’re not having to start from square one.”
Trumbull is a Lovell native, the son of Rollin Trumbull, now of Ralston, and Beverly Trumbull, now Beverly McDarment of Lovell.
“My family and I moved back here three years ago, and in the process I asked myself, ‘Why did we every leave the community?’,” Trumbull said. As for Nation, she said she is very happy to be in her newly adopted hometown.
“With all of our experience we could have gone somewhere else,” Trumbull said, “but we wanted to be here. We didn’t want to leave. We wanted to build something. We anticipate hiring nine to 15 new employees.”
When the Rose Bowl was opened by the Doerr family in 1954, Trumbull said, it was the hub of Lovell. All traveling sports teams stopped there, and it was the number one restaurant in Lovell.
“It’s been that way for more than 50 years and we want to continue that and improve on it,” he said.
Trumbull has some 30 years of experience in the hospitality business, owning restaurants and bars and working in hotels, he said, for companies like Sheraton and Marriott. He said he’s worked for companies large and small.
“I started at Hansel and Gretel’s (in Powell) when I was 14 and worked there through high school,” he said, noting that his career has taken him to California, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona and Colorado.
He has worked the last two years managing the Wyoming High Country resort in the Big Horn Mountains.
As for Nation, she’s originally from Lander and worked for the State of Wyoming for 27 years at the Life Resource Center in Lander, then in Rock Springs for five years for a non-profit community setting for people with developmental disabilities.
She married John Nation of Lovell nine years ago and moved to Lovell full-time around six years ago, she said. She continued consulting for the Rock Springs center, driving back and forth a lot, then later worked for Trumbull at Wyoming High Country, as well as at the Diamond J Bar.
Nation may not have a lot of restaurant experience, she said, but she does bring to the new business lots of experience training, managing and supervising employees.
“Her experience working with employees is phenomenal from creating training manuals to developing the kind of attitudes we want to carry over to our dining rooms,” Trumbull said.
Trumbull said the Brandin’ Iron will slowly ramp up to speed once he and Nation assume control on July 15, running regular Lange’s Kitchen hours at first and working with the familiar menu, then in a week to two weeks developing a new menu and, once new employees are trained, extending hours to evenings.
“It will be a slow process to build up the inventory and train staff,” he said. “We’re both adamant about training employees so we’re ready to serve customers. We’re doing it slowly. Customer service is our whole philosophy.”
The eventual goals is to be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Trumbull said, but that is subject to change.
“We need to figure out what the community wants,” he said. “We want to find the best fit for the community in terms of hours, meals, beverages, etc., and let the community create what it needs.”
Trumbull said he and Nation will do some remodeling and make some changes in the building, from bigger restrooms to aesthetic changes, putting money back into the facility and the community. He said the restaurant will maintain separate smoking and non-smoking rooms.
The menu will include steaks and seafood and the “best burgers around – one-third pound burgers.”
“We’ll do everything we can locally,” he said, noting that he and Nation have already been working with Kevin Bennett at Red Apple to select the best cuts of meat, adding, “Kevin’s been handpicking them for me.”
He said he sampled products last Thursday at a test kitchen in Billings.
By David Peck