With almost two years under her belt, the new owner of the Old Man Grill, Stephanie Sandler, is looking to make some adjustments, including potentially updating the menu and looking to expand. Despite any goals for growth, Sandler said she also wants to keep the Old Man Grill close to its small-town roots.
Sandler has been the owner of the restaurant, located at 303 17th Street, for almost two years after taking over for her employer Doug Weckerly. Sandler said she worked for Weckerly for seven or eight years at some of his Fort Collins restaurants before working at the Old Man Grill in Laramie. As Weckerly started selling his restaurants, including the Old Man Grill, Sandler said she saw her chance.
“I worked in his Fort Collins store, and decided that I wanted to come up here and purchase this one,” Sandler said. “I’ve been here since day one, and when he was ready to sell it to me, he sold it.”
Sandler has kept the menu virtually the same since she took over. She said the breakfast and lunch restaurant makes almost every menu item in-house, including homemade jams, sweet toast, fresh-pressed burgers, thick-cut bacon and green chilis. Sandler said looking forward, she’s ready to start tweaking the menu.
“We’re getting ready to look at changing it a little bit now that we’ve been open for a while,” Sandler said. “We kind of know what’s selling and what’s not.”
She added any potential menu changes would stay “fresh and simple” with “good quality work.”
Additionally, Sandler has been looking into adding more staff to help limit her daily commute from Fort Collins, where she currently lives. She said she has been considering moving to Laramie because it can be hard to make the long commute back and forth six days a week, especially when the weather forces the roads to close.
“We’re definitely looking to move closer for sure, but I love it,” Sandler said. “I love being small and I love our hours. … I have two little kids, so it would be nice to just have a day or two at home.”
With the restaurant open from 7:00 a.m. to around 1:30 p.m., Sandler said many of her regulars have inquired about serving the lunch burgers for dinner as well. Although she said she wants to give it a shot, the funds needed to hire the extra dinner staff made it difficult.
Many of the restaurant’s regulars have been coming in “since day one,” and Sandler said they are one of her favorite parts about owning the restaurant.
“I love talking with my regulars and having those people who just love coming in here to see me,” Sandler said. “I’ve gotten really close with people.”
The regulars come from as far as Cheyenne, and Sandler said she’d love to open a second location there someday.
“There’s a lot of people that come over from Cheyenne that would love to have one over there,” Sandler said. “It’s just hard to find a spot and one that’s worth it.”
The Laramie location is right next to the University of Wyoming, which Sandler said contributes to much of the restaurant’s weekend business.
As much as Sandler enjoys working in Laramie, she admitted it can be tricky to determine if business will be slow or busy on a given day, especially weekdays. Despite the uncertainty, she said the regulars can help offset the lack of walk-in traffic that Fort Collins may bring.
“You get a lot more people that will come in on a daily basis as far as regulars, as opposed to Fort Collins you get a realm of people,” Sandler said. “So, there’s certain people up here that you can depend on every day will come in, or at least three times a week as opposed to there.”
The restaurant is open every morning except Monday.