Branding Iron back in business

by nathan oster

The Branding Iron is back in business.

The bar at the corner of First Avenue South and Sixth Street, which was owned for many years by Bill and Betty Shem, then for about 3 ½ years by John and Jean Laws up until it closed in the summer of 2012, is now under the ownership of Al and Wendy Martin.

It was expected to open Wednesday, July 10 — just a little over a month after the Martins closed on the property and began renovations.

Since that time, the main bar area has been expanded, new carpeting has been installed, and all the interior walls have received fresh paint and new décor.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Wendy. While Al bought the bar, it will be hers to run. She’s already hired a Greybull native, Chelsea Drake, to manage it and serve as its primary bartender.

Al now owns three bars in Big Horn County, but according to Wendy, he is trying to sell one of them, the Antler Inn of Shell, so that they can devote all of their time and attention to their two Greybull bars, the Branding Iron and the Silver Spur.

Wendy said her bar’s targeted clientele is the “after-work crowd,” saying she expects normal business hours to be 3 to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  On nights the bar is busy, they’ll stay open later than that.

“I’d really like it to be a place where people could come and have a couple cocktails after work, relax and enjoy good conversation,” she said.  “It’s not going to be a rowdy place, I can tell you that.”

Wendy said she’d like to eventually feature live music, saying the bar’s covered outdoor patio area is an ideal venue for all kinds of events, and that she loves the bar’s location which was one of its strongest selling points.

“Everything just kind of fell into place,” she said of the purchase.

Wendy said she’s fielded many questions about her plans since renovations began — and in particular, about her plan for the bar to be a non-smoking establishment.  She’s adamant on that point, but said a smoking area would be set up outside for those patrons who wish to smoke.

Until becoming a bar owner, Wendy devoted all of her energy to raising her two girls, Kayla and Shanae Cummings.  A native of Washington state, she has lived in this area for 24 years.  Both daughters grew up here; Kayla now lives in Casper, Shanae will be a senior this fall at GHS.

“I never planned to be a bar owner or to manage one … it just happened,” she said. “But I’m really looking forward to it.  I enjoy the conversation, and you get so many different types of people who come into a bar.  It’s going to be fun.”