K-bar-T to host Grand Opening
K-bar-T owners Karin Vinkemulder and Trent Fink will celebrate their Grand Opening on Saturday night, June 25, on the same day that they tie the knot and become Mr. and Mrs! The celebration, which begins at 6:00 p.m. with a free supper, will serve as a joint Grand Opening/wedding reception. The Finks will be offering drink specials and karaoke throughout the night. Everyone is welcome to join the merriment!
Karin and Trent have been busy renovating the 60 year-old-building since they purchased it from Willis and Cindy Kopren last December. The potential that the building offered them and Bison’s need for another place to eat were deciding factors in making the purchase.
Karin is originally from Montana. She previously worked at Kopren’s “Buzz Stop” and in home health care. She says the transition to business owner has been a busy and challenging one but also an overall enjoyable experience.
Trent operated an automotive shop in Montana before coming to Bison. He has erected a large automotive shop, “A+ Repair,” on the west side of Bison on Kolbs Street. He and Karin have since built a new home just south of that business.
Trent has been leading the renovation efforts at K–T (pronounced K–bar–T), assisted by Bill Morris of Bill’s Home Repair, electrical staff from Grand Electric and Todd and Ronda Fink from Fink Dirtmoving.
Since the beginning, the goal has been to improve and expand services and to add retail merchandise.
Walls have come down to create a welcoming environment and a larger convenience store on the west - and original - side of the building. There are 2 new rest rooms. The flooring and steel siding on the walls is new, too.
During the demolition process, the old hoist and an overhead door from a long-ago service station, that began in the mid-1950s, were uncovered as were bricks, made by Marion Bros. in Hettinger in 1948.
Outside stucco has a fresh coat of paint and there’s a neon sign. Flower pots and a bench add a welcoming touch by the front door. The parking lot has a fresh rock surface. In July, the Finks will add a 12 foot overhang from the roof along three sides of the building, which will create a shaded area for patio tables and outside eating. They hope that the curb appeal will entice Highway 20 travelers to stop.
Karin and Trent have expanded the menu in their east side eatery - which is part of a bar - beyond pizza and sub sandwiches. Both on-sale and off-sale beverages are offered. There are future plans to renovate the bar area, too.
Howard Chapman Sr. and his son Edward Chapman built the original “Highway Café,” in 1955. It is located north of Highway 20, at Bison’s junction, and opened as a café and Mobile service station.
By 1958, the Chapmans rented the café to a Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt from Isabel. Other café operators included Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Russell, Buffalo and Kenny and Velda Day, Faith, before Roy and Elsie Penor, Bison, took over. Earl Weaver ran the service station during those years.
In 1963 the business was purchased by Bryce and Lila White and became known as “White’s Truck Stop.” Weaver continued to operate the service station, which
no longer exists.
In 1980, Rollie and Denise Tescher bought the establishment and renamed it “Rollie’s Truck Stop.” Rollie continued to operate it until 1987. He added an arcade and a juke box to entice the younger crowd.
By 1988 Greg and Robin Covey had bought the place and, once again, it became “White’s Truck Stop.” In 1993, Donna Kaye Anderson took the reins and called it the “D–bar–K Café.” She sold to Buck and Patty Murtha who called it “Blue Denim Diner.”
Next, Jim and Janet Gochenour purchased the business during the summer of 2005, calling it the “Double J.” They added the convenience store.
Willis and Cindy Kopren became the new owners in October of 2006 and there was another name change – this time to “Buzz Stop.” They renovated the wing on the east side and opened the bar/eatery. They employed several managers, starting with Dave and Paula Kopren and, most recently, Sammie McKinstry.
Now, it’s K – T and time to celebrate with a Grand Opening on Saturday night.
Karin says they will continue to have regular hours. They open every day, seven days a week, at 7:00 a.m.; they close at 9:00 p m. on Sunday through Thursday and at 10:00. on Friday and Saturday nights. Those are the posted hours that customers can count on. They might be open earlier, however, and, when there’s a crowd, they might stay open later. They are excited to host various special events and will accept special food and alcoholic beverage orders, too.
Congratulations to Bison’s newest business venture and to the Finks for their foresight!