AP NEWS

Bringing back Buckhorn

April 17, 2019 GMT

The Buckhorn Tavern will be back.

The legendary Socorro County burger joint in San Antonio, N.M., looked like it was down for the count.

Longtime owner Bobby Olguin in December shut down the Buckhorn after a 100-year run — 75 years at the same location under the same family. He wanted to slow down after a bout with cancer.

News didn’t surface until early April of the Buckhorn’s resurrection. Las Cruces residents Ernie and Stephanie Sichler closed on the Buckhorn purchase April 2. But they were in touch with Olguin just after he closed the restaurant.

The Sichlers hope to be serving Olguin’s signature green chile cheeseburgers and other specialties by June, Stephanie Sichler said.

“We’re getting the recipes from Bobby and learning how to cook them,” she said. “We wanted to save the Buckhorn and not turn it into something else.”

Ernie Sichler is no out-of-towner looking for some small-town diner charm. Sichler, a Las Cruces financial planner, was born and raised in San Antonio.

The extended Sichler family has deep roots in San Antonio with green chile and produce farms, including food stands in San Antonio, Los Lunas and a Sichler Farms store in San Antonio.

Ernie will step aside at Chaney & Marin Financial Planning, and he and Stephanie will move to San Antonio to run the Buckhorn.

“He had a great career,” Stephanie Sichler said. “It was more of a lifestyle change, I guess.”

The Sichlers have toyed with doing a food truck. She noted the Buckhorn is not far off from a food truck.

“The kitchen is about the size of a food truck,” Sichler said.

The Sichlers won’t reopen the Buckhorn until June because the structure needs upgrades to meet code. The Buckhorn, opened in 1918, has been in the same building since 1943, and Stephanie Sichler said antiquated features were grandfathered in as exempt under the previous owner.

The green chile cheeseburgers in San Antonio at Buckhorn and nearby Owl Bar & Cafe achieved widespread fame in the late 2000s. GQ magazine named Buckhorn Tavern’s burger the seventh best in America, and Marlboro.com’s “Nightlife Flavor Roundup” named it the No. 3 “baddest burger in the land.” Celebrity chef Bobby Flay lost his Throwdown With Bobby Flay at Buckhorn in 2009.

The Sichlers did not want to see the Buckhorn sitting closed.

“We like traveling around New Mexico,” Sichler said. “A lot of restaurants and bars are closing around New Mexico. We stop at a restaurant and then they are closing.”

The new Buckhorn will basically be the old Buckhorn. The Sichlers will add a few items to the old menu. The remodel will retain the old look.

“Our goal is to keep the same feel,” Sichler said. “We don’t want to go in and make everything stainless steel.”