RANCHESTER — On U.S. Highway 14 in Ranchester a building that sat empty for 15 years has new tenants, and people are starting to notice.
Jenny Miller, who owns the Hootin’ Owl Café with her husband, Bill, said they’re having more of a turnout than they originally expected.
“I told my husband, ‘Hey I’ll just start doing two dozen doughnuts and we’ll see how everybody responds’ and now we’re up to 18 dozen,” she said. “And that’s just been within the last few weeks. We have people come up from Sheridan, and they will wait until they’re done.”
The fresh doughnuts by themselves have pulled in passersby.
“Of course once we started putting the ‘Fresh doughnuts’ on the window, everybody started doing U-turns to get some doughnuts,” Miller said.
The business opened Sept. 18 and is open at 6 a.m. every day but Sunday, when they open at 9 a.m.
“We like to hit a lot of those who have to go to work early, so they have something,” Miller said.
The Hootin’ Owl menu ranges from doughnuts and desserts to burgers and fried chicken, with seasonal items changing with the weather.
She said the work wouldn’t be easy without the help of her son, Erik Aguirre. With good family and staff, business is booming, causing some regular customers to think ahead when looking for a hoot.
“A lot of people utilize calling in so they can grab it on the go,” Miller said.
The little mom and pop doughnut shop is actually named after Bill Miller’s father, who received the nickname while serving in the U.S. military.
“He was in the Marines Special Ops (and) he could see really good, so they kind of grouped to him, and he was in the Black Powder, so they nicknamed him Hootin’ Owl,” Miller said.
And the café didn’t stop by naming the building after someone; many of the menu items include the nicknames of family and friends.
A combination of atmosphere, history and a good community has pushed Hootin’ Owl to success.
“The community, I believe, needed something like this,” Miller said.
But the community isn’t the only market that’s being targeted.
“Everybody that goes up to the mountains, Yellowstone, snowmobiling, camping and everything; we’re kind of able to cater to everybody,” Miller said.
Other businesses have also asked Miller to put together doughnuts.
“We must be doing something right,” Miller said.