Payson could soon have rodeo all year long if the partners of Bandits and Bulls cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s.
Aaron West and his partners Trudy and Jason Enyart and Jimmy and Katie Parks presented their concept for food, bowling and live bull riding at a June 12 Payson Community Development meeting.
The group is in the process of purchasing the Rim Country Bowl property. They said the bowling alley would remain open during any remodeling.
“This is an extremely important venture for all of us,” said West. “We would be the only live bull riding in northern Arizona.”
The Parks already run the Bandits Restaurant and Dirty Cowboy Saloon in Strawberry. Katie said she feels confident she can keep people coming back with “plenty of good food and drink.”
The group has a lot of enthusiasm for Payson.
“With the rodeo here, this town is the best place,” said West.
In their presentation, the partners quoted a Fox News report that “professional bull riding is becoming the fastest growing sport in America.”
Audiences to Professional Bull Riders events have increased from around 300,000 in 1995 to more than 3 million last year, they said.
Bull riding has even invaded New York City. PBR riders compete at Madison Square Garden.
Bandits and Bulls reported there are two other bull riding restaurants in Arizona — one in Apache Junction and one in Cave Creek — so they have an idea of what it takes to succeed.
West assured the assembled department heads the bulls would only be housed “on a temporary basis” at the bowling alley location.
The partners have explored insurance.
“Did you know it’s more expensive to insure a mechanical bull than a real bull?” said West. “We’re going to have mechanical bulls inside.”
From their presentation, there will be live bull riding a couple days a week.
Depending on the experience of the rider, Bandits and Bulls would offer bulls for the novice to advanced rider.
“We are teaming up with Spear J Cattle Company,” according to information the group provided the town. “Spear J has all needed waivers and insurance for this type of entertainment. The insurance covers all spectators as well. All protective gear is provided. No person is allowed on any animal if alcoholic beverages have been consumed.”
The group plans on expanding the current kitchen so they can serve dinners.
“The food will be absolutely primary to us,” said Dunn.
The arcade will remain not only open, but get an overhaul.
“There’s different activities these kids haven’t been able to do,” said West.
In addition to bull riding, Bandits and Bulls will offer mutton bustin’ for the kids and goat roping.
“We’re basically trying to figure out a way to bring crazy awesome family entertainment to Payson,” said West.
The group hopes to open by next spring if everything lines up right.
“If the live bull riding is not approved, we risk our establishment being bowling focused which is great, but not the entertainment the community and AZ is thirsting for,” according to the group’s application.