▶️ Pilot Butte Drive-In closes; beloved burger joint future in doubt

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

For nearly four decades the Pilot Butte Drive-In was known for its large portions, gigantic burgers and popular breakfasts.

But the popular restaurant has shut its doors, possibly, for good.

“It’s Pilot Butte Drive-In, it’s a Bend staple,” Brad Ruder said.

Born and raised in Bend, Ruder says the Pilot Butte Drive-In is far more than just a restaurant. It was a place that brought families like his together for nearly for years.

“I have many memories of going to Pilot Butte Drive-In,” said Ruder. “It was the special place where we went for birthdays and anniversaries. It was the place we went to when we wanted to be local, when we wanted to have a good time. Words can’t express how much that business is Bend.”

Unfortunately, it could be the end of the Ruder family favorite.

The restaurant had been for sale for months as a business opportunity, until owner William Falconer decided to shut the restaurant down.

“There were a lot of factors to this and one of the main ones is that my wife and I were trying to retire anyway,” Falconer said. “We just mostly don’t have the energy to try and get it going again.”

“With the COVID-19 thing he just couldn’t get to that point where he wanted to keep the doors open and had to close the doors, unfortunately, as a lot of businesses have had to do because of the shutdown,” said Jim Birtola, owner of High Desert Realty. “So now we’re out there shopping the property and the building.”

The property is listed for $1.75 million and includes the more than half-acre lot and 2,200-square-foot building.

While the new owner of the property could continue the restaurant’s legacy, Birtola says the decision is ultimately up to that buyer.

“It’s open for the best bidder and what they choose to do with it at that point is up to the purchaser,” Birtola said.

For some, the restaurant is just a place worth keeping for its award-winning burgers.

For others, it’s much more.

“I’ve been in Bend since 1990 and it’s definitely been an icon out there, so it’s a little sad to see it go,” Birtola said.

“It is a part of Bend, Oregon history, so I hope the person who buys it, whoever buys it, considers that,” Ruder said.

 

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