One of Bend’s most recognizable restaurants, Pilot Butte Drive-In is for sale.
The business and its half-acre property at 917 NE Greenwood Ave. are listed together for $2.6 million.
“It’s fun, but I’m just ready to move on,” said Bill Falconer, who owns the business with his wife, Tammy. The Falconers bought the restaurant, which is known for serving 18-ounce burgers and car hop service, in April 2007 from the Mangin family.
A lot of businesses are changing hands, as longtime owners who survived the last recession decide they’re not interested in riding out another one, said Gary O’Connell, Central Oregon market president at Summit Bank.
“Restaurants, no matter what the economy’s like, you always see turnover there,” O’Connell said.
Although restaurants are notorious for high rates of failure, Summit would finance the purchase of a business like Pilot Butte Drive-In, especially if the buyer had previous experience in the industry, O’Connell said.
Falconer, 58, said he and his wife hope to travel once his son graduates from high school in four years, and he thinks it might take that long to find the right buyer.
When he bought the restaurant, it had been listed privately for a couple of years, Falconer said. He was looking to get out of the construction business, and he and his wife both had fond memories of Pilot Butte Drive-In.
Tammy Falconer grew up in Bend and would hang out at the restaurant when it was an A&W drive-in, he said. Jack and Dee Mangin opened Pilot Butte Drive-In in 1983, and Bill Falconer lived next door to it when he first moved to Bend in 1989.
“I was a bachelor, so I ate there two or three times a day,” he said.
The Falconers had no previous restaurant experience, but the Mangins stayed on for three months to show them the ropes, Falconer said.
Falconer expanded Pilot Butte Drive-In to the west side of Bend in 2011 but closed the Century Drive location in 2016.
The west side location lacked visibility from the street to draw people passing by on their way home from Mt. Bachelor and never turned a profit, he said.
The original restaurant does a steady business, Falconer said. He expects that the next owner will want to keep the business operating, rather than redevelop the property.
“I’m sure it does well there,” said Peter May, a partner at Compass Commercial Real Estate Services. May, who also brokers businesses, does not represent Pilot Butte Drive-In. “I would be surprised if somebody would buy the business and do something else with it.”
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