New Ox Bow Owners Plan Restaurant

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The new owners of the Ox Bow Inn took over operation of the bar last week, and eventually plan to refurbish and reopen the historic property's restaurant.

We took over last Monday evening," manager Margo Stavroplos said.

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The Ox Bow Inn has a colorful history. Its many years at the heart of Payson was recognized last year by the National Register of Historic Places.

The new ownership, which also owns Creekers Territorial Bar and Grill in Cave Creek, wants to reopen the restaurant before August Doin's, and has extensive plans for the Ox Bow, according to Stavroplos.

"We're working on a lot of improvements," she said. "We're going to try and improve everything."

Stavroplos, who previously worked at Creekers, will probably move to Payson.

"It looks like it," she said. "I'm already here five days a week."

The Ox Bow was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties considered worthy of preservation.

According to former town historian Stan Brown, the Payson Hotel, the forerunner to the Ox Bow Inn, was built in 1932 by William and Estelee Wade. Logs for the structure, which originally had nine rooms upstairs and a kitchen, restaurant and bar downstairs,were cut and hauled from the Mogollon Rim.

Rooms were $2.50 a night and meals cost 50 cents.

At the end of World War II, the Wades retired from the hotel business and the new owners, Bob and Thelma Caldwell, expanded the facility to become the Ox Bow Inn. The name, according to Brown, comes from Oxbow Hill, the gateway to Payson -- named when soldiers in the 1870s found an oxbow on the trail.

The Caldwells purchased Alf Randall's store to the west and remodeled it as the Ox Bow Saloon. A series of rooms were added to form a courtyard in the back, which opened onto a patio and swimming pool.

A gala grand opening for the Ox Bow Lodge was held May 2, 1954, with a free poolside barbecue.

The Caldwells sold the property in August 1966, after which it had a series of owners.

Previous co-owner Beverly Nethken still owns 404 W. Main Street and will maintain an office there, according to Carol McCauley, Main Street manager.

"She's going to stay in town and stay on Main Street," McCauley said.

Nethken did not return a call from the Roundup.

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