Durango Diner: Taking on a New Type of Adventure

Last year, while quarantined in his basement, Greg Mauger had an epiphany.

He was bored stiff, and he realized that he would rather work himself to death than be that bored. So, after more than a decade of working off and on at the Durango Diner, he decided to buy it.

He began looking for funding and quickly realized that his adventurous lifestyle didn’t lend itself to easy loan approval from banks. He looked for other options but found it hard to locate good information.

Then, he came across the SBDC.

“They gave me a lot of great information. What I learned was that someone in my position was not eligible for loans from traditional sources without collateral or experience in ownership. I also learned that in business, there’s a lot of opportunity if you are willing to be creative and reach outside the box.”

As of September 2021, Greg is the proud new owner of the Durango Diner. He also bought the salsa and green chile side of the business, which adds a whole other level of complexity to his role.

“So far, everything has been really good. I was and am very close with the previous owner, so I understand our core customer base, which has been really beneficial. Gary, the previous owner, still offers support, provides mentorship, and has helped me make connections.”

Since opening, the biggest challenge that Greg has faced has been adjusting to the schedule. “The way that this business has always been run is that the owner has been here working that grill seven days a week. He ran the Diner in partnership with his wife, but I’m just one person. My mother is assisting with the books, and I have a lot of employees and good help. But I’m doing quite a bit of the work myself.”

By and large, Greg plans to keep things at the Diner similar to how “it’s always been done.” He does look forward to modernizing, but all changes will be thoughtful, slow, and methodical. Most changes will be on the back end, and he hopes to make things a little easier on the staff. The biggest changes will be on the green chile and salsa side, which will be an even longer and more methodical process. That will involve a lot of new things—marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and new products.

Greg is incredibly grateful to the Diner’s loyal customer base. “I want to respect and keep them around. I appreciate that they’ve continued to support me through the transition.” If you’re a budding entrepreneur, he offers this advice: “I think you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of it you really put the hours in. If I put that energy into anything, I feel like I could have done any job or business. It doesn’t take significant brainpower—just dedication

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