The historic Oxbow Saloon has once again had a change in owners.
MGF Funding, Inc. of Mesa bought the building and property at public auction Sept. 5 in Globe.
The company was the beneficiary of the sale, as it had made the loan to the group who last purchased the site. The Sept. 5 sale was originally planned for the end of July, but was postponed when the group with the loan sought a reorganization bankruptcy.
Brian Mortensen, president of MGF Funding, Inc., has already had a restaurant and bar consultant visit the Oxbow and was expecting recommendations on how to make best use of the property and building on Monday.
"We don't have a plan for the property. When we made the loan, we never thought we would actually own the property," Mortensen said.
Initially, Mortensen had planned to close the saloon, but changed his mind. He admits a certain sentimental attachment to the property.
"I have been visiting Payson regularly since 1978. My first country-dance steps were in the Oxbow. I'm hopeful that the historic heritage of the building and saloon can be preserved. I feel it would be a shame to lose a town landmark."
He said the saloon would remain open with the current licensed operator.
"It is perfectly suited to be a nice restaurant if we can find investors who are willing to spend the money it will take to put in a kitchen," Mortensen said. He added the building needs a lot of additional work.
While there are no actual plans in place, he said he is shopping for an operating company to keep the business in place.
"Robert Herrera, who is running it now, has expressed an interest in it," Mortensen said.
He said he wants input from town officials and community leaders on ways to maximize the value of the property for both the investors and the community of Payson.
Anyone interested in making comments or suggestions can contact Mortensen at MGF Funding, Inc., P.O. Box 41941, Mesa, AZ 85274-1941.