Rye: More Than A Wide Spot In The Road


Rye -- with the blink of the eye you might miss it, but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Even its unofficial vice mayor, Don Garvin - normally in charge of vice, he admits with (you guessed it) wry humor -- was surprised by the number of businesses.


The Rye Creek Bar & Restaurant is probably the oldest business in the small community nine miles south of Payson. About 80 people make their homes in the area and a number of other businesses have taken root there.

The social center of the estimated 80-member community is the Rye Bar and Restaurant, formerly owned by Garvin. It is also the oldest business, built in 1945 by Harry Connolly and his twin sons, Tom and Dick.

Garvin sold the bar and restaurant last year to Frank Machin and his partner. A lot of remodeling has been done, and the Friday night fish fry is always a sellout.

"You can't get in the building," Garvin said.

Garvin joked he only swept up about twice a year when he had the place. Many of his same employees stayed on with the new owners.

As for sweeping up only a couple of times a year during his days as the barkeep and restaurateur, you have to understand, Garvin had a lot on his plate:

  • The toilets he put up on posts in Rye's version of the pottery along one of the freeways in Phoenix;
  • Floats in the Memorial and Veterans Day parades: such as Rye's first cell phone - a guy in prison stripes in a cell with a megaphone; and Rye's first satellite -- a cowboy with a light on his head laying over his saddle;
  • Merchandising - setting out bags of oranges by his van, posting the cost on a sign and cracking a window for people to toss in the money while he sat in the bar having a beer; and
  • Being the biggest junk collector in the world.

He said he buys motor homes, etc., from snowbirds ready to fly back home. It means buying everything in them, furniture, curtains, even dishes.

Garvin started building in Rye in 1987. His current business interests are Garvin's RV and the Rye RV Trailer Park.

The newest of the businesses is Harold's Street and Rod Shop. It has not yet opened, but will be in operation soon, Garvin said.

As for the future, he has heard there is a possibility that a small sawmill will go in at the wood and log yard and another trailer park might be opening.

Garvin said the community needs a filling station, one with a convenience store. At one point Bell Gas had an interest in the area, but there was a rumor Texaco might be coming in, so that scared Bell off. Now, the residents are still waiting. He thinks there will be a gas station in the community eventually.

While the water supply is a concern for residents and businesses in Rye, just as it is everywhere else, Garvin said it is not the worry in the community.

He said most of the wells, at least on the east side of the Beeline, are relatively shallow, but produce plenty of water. His well at the trailer park is 230 feet deep and even in a peak drought, it has at least 100 feet of water in it.

Bare land is going for around $100,000 an acre, he said, but with no city sales tax, there is a lot of interest in relocating to the community.

Rye may be a wide spot in the road, and with Forest Service land on either side that is not likely to be traded, it won't ever be a hot bed of activity. But almost everyone living in the community participates when there are activities, "at least the ones who are ambulatory," Garvin jokes.

Rye's business district

Some of the businesses in the 600-plus strip of private land between Forest Service land and the Beeline Highway are:

  • ll-Bikes Motorcycle Yard and Antique Museum
  • merican Homes, Inc.
  • ird Busters of Payson Trap and Skeet Shoot
  • ronco Homes
  • ollins Mobile Home Towing Service
  • ut Loose Hair and Nail Salon
  • ddie's Garage
  • our Seasons Motorsports
  • arold's Street and Rod Shop
  • ashknife Feed and Tack
  • atlock Gas and Equipment Company
  • Rye Creek Bar and Restaurant
  • Rye Mini Storage RV and Boat Storage
  • The Wood and Log Yard
  • The Yard Sale Shop

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