Oxbow Closed For Remodeling

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The bar is closed and there is dust on the dance floor of the Oxbow Saloon on Main Street.

MGF Funding, Inc. of Mesa owns the now-empty building.

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The historic Oxbow Saloon is closed for a major remodeling project. The plan is to have it open by May 1 with lots of new features and a family-friendly atmosphere.

"I decided to lock the doors, because the people in there running it weren't paying me any rent," Brian Mortensen, trustee for the owner for the Oxbow president of MGF Funding said.

He hopes to re-open in the spring, possibly by the first of May, after an extensive remodel of the building.

He contracted with local architect Shannon Long to draw blueprints and get building permits.

Updating the kitchen blueprints, enlarging the bathrooms and bringing the courtyard rooms up to code are part of the remodeling plan Mortensen has in mind.

"I think in order for there to be a successful business in there, they need to be able to use the entire facility," he said.

The Town of Payson has the bathroom drawings, but Mortensen said he estimates another "week or so" before Long would complete the courtyard room plans.

The courtyard rooms could be shops or hotel rooms Mortensen said.

"I intend to make good premises for people to operate a business and be successful, because, if they are successful, they will pay rent," Mortensen said.

He envisions family entertainment in the courtyard during the summer months as a draw for tourists and area residents and possibly historic tours.

Will there still be a place to dance?

"I think that makes sense. I love that little place. I first learned to country dance on that floor in 1992," Mortensen said.

"I think Main Street has a great chance of being even more vital than it is now. The Oxbow should put its current reputation behind it and re-open after the remodel that will be done," Mortensen said.

He is interested in discussing a lease with a "skillful, reputable bar operator."

That operator will have to apply to the state for a new liquor license.

"A liquor license should be easy to get once there is a fullblown restaurant," he said.

Former Oxbow owners, Robert and Laura Herrera filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to hold onto the Oxbow in July 2007.

MGF Funding, Inc. purchased the property Sept. 5, 2007 at an auction in Globe.

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