Welcome to #HOMETOWNHUSTLE – a SweetwaterNOW exclusive series where we highlight hardworking individuals in our community.
This week, I had a chance to catch up with Terri Shepard. Terri and her husband Larry are the owners of the long-standing business White Mountain Mining Restaurant & Saloon.
For 27 years, White Mountain Mining has been been a local favorite fine dining restaurant. They serve steak, seafood, chicken, and pasta – but they are best known for their prime rib and their deep-fried mushrooms. They also have a bar menu that includes their popular french dip sandwich made with their prime rib.
Walking into White Mountain Mining, in addition to the hometown atmosphere, you immediately notice the character of the building. The building was actually moved from Winton, WY approximately 70 years ago. Throughout those years, many businesses have called the building home. It started out as Gookins Garage and was several other bars before finally becoming White Mountain Mining.
For Teri, being a business owner just made sense; so in 1992, her and Larry took the leap.
“I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker so I thought I should be working for myself. I didn’t know what type of business I wanted, but Larry’s dream was this business; so we decided to take on White Mountain Mining Restaurant and Saloon – and now my dream has been fulfilled!”
Owning and operating White Mountain Mining may be a dream come true, but the restaurant industry is a tough one and it’s even tougher in a boom and bust economy.
“When the economy is down, customers can’t always go out to a place like ours. We have a great customer base and employees that are willing to go the extra mile, so that has helped us get through the tough times,” explained Terri.
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For Teri, her favorite part of being a business owner is being challenged each and every day.
“It’s never boring! It can be exhausting, but it’s always nice to see so many people having a great time. It makes it all worth it. Our motto has always been to provide a great meal with great service in a relaxed atmosphere.”
One of the things Terri is most proud of is her great group of employees and vendors she’s had throughout the years.
“Our employees have been so hardworking and customer-oriented! Also, our local vendors have helped over the years – they’ve always been there for us, through thick and thin.”
They truly are one big family. Being in business for 27 years has allowed Terri to watch her employees’ kids grow up, some of them even work for her!
“We are now hiring former employees’ kids. It can make a person feel old, but it’s very rewarding. We’ve even had employees get engaged and have their receptions at the restaurant.”
I asked Terri if she had a favorite memory throughout her business journey and she couldn’t narrow it down to just one.
“My favorite memories come from our customers. We’ve had a wonderful customer base and we’ve formed many friendships throughout the years. It’s especially fun when a lot of them stop by at the same time. So many know each other, that’s what is so fun about living in a small town.”
She did mention a recent memory from one of SweetwaterNOW’s reader polls (that’s us).
“Most recently, we won ‘Best Date Night Restaurant in Sweetwater County’ which was an honor and will be a great memory to look back on!”
To Terri, business success isn’t always about the money, it’s mostly about the people she has supported and the people that support White Mountain Mining.
“I don’t feel business success is always defined by money. If you can help employees to succeed in their goals, you have made a difference. Also, having the support of loyal customers always makes us feel like we’ve been successful!”
Throughout the years, Terri has learned a very important lesson she’d like to share with aspiring business owners/managers.
“Appreciate and take care of your employees and customers and it will come back to you ten-fold.”