Route 66 News

Buffalo Inn’s future looks cloudy

A nostalgic article by David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reveals that the historic Buffalo Inn in Upland, Calif., faces an uncertain future due to bankruptcy and legal problems.

The Buffalo Inn, at 1814 W. Foothill Blvd. (Route 66), opened in 1929, saw its name change several times due to ownership changes, then came back as the Buffalo Inn in 1977.

The business’ problems began to mount after longtime owner Forrest Rinard sold the Buffalo Inn to his brother, Richard, who operates it with partner Janna Hickler. Allen writes:

These days the Buffalo Inn is in bankruptcy, its future in question. It closed briefly in July before reopening.

Hickler blames Forrest Rinard and the expensive fallout from a workplace accident in 2000; Forrest blames his brother for running the place into the ground and stiffing creditors.

Fingerpointing and family feuds aren’t my bag, so let’s not go into all that. The recent years of the business named for buffalo are, fittingly, kind of hairy.

I’d rather remember its glory days.

The restaurant distinctive look came from restaurateur Forrest Rinard, hired to rebuild the place in the late 1970s to resemble a ski lodge.

The framework, beams and ceiling are original from 1929. The rest was done using scrap lumber and didn’t cost a penny, Rinard said. Because the property was outside the city limits, he didn’t have to meet city building codes.

The centerpiece, though, wasn’t envisioned as the building. It would be the outdoor, tree-shaded patio, enclosed by a fence. Rinard had no restaurant experience, but the idea of the patio excited his imagination.

“I thought, it could be something. There was nothing around here like I was envisioning: a beer garden,” Rinard said.

Famous visitors included have included actors Kirk Douglas and John Travolta, and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher and current Anaheim Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

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