The Saratoga Sun -

Dingy Dan's gets new owner


Former Dingy Dan's owner Lois Buchanan and new proprietor Marvin Francis.

Two years ago, Lois Buchanan put her bar on the market because she felt it was time after 22 years.

"I wanted to start on my bucket list and there are some things I would like to do," Buchanan said. "And with Daniel (her husband who passed away) being gone it just wasn't as interesting and I lost the enthusiasm for it. The bar needed a breath of life and I knew it."

Buchanan is confident the new owner, Marvin Francis, is that breath of life.

"The potential is here, but not with me," concluded Buchanan.

Dingy Dan's will stay the same in most ways said Francis, including the name. When Francis approached Buchanan about buying Dingy Dan's he asked her if he could keep the name.

"I was actually honored that Marvin wanted to keep the name," Buchanan said.

Francis is originally from Torrington, but he and his wife Becky live in Sacramento, California.

"I returned from Vietnam and snagged the best looking girl in Wyoming and married her," Francis said.

They have been married 44 years. They have one daughter, Kimberly, who is a child psychologist in Sacramento.

He found out about the bar being for sale from his brother-in-law, Chuck Bauman, who has been opening the bar for Buchanan for a few years.

Bauman will be the manager of Dingy Dan's while Francis is in California. Francis is waiting for his wife to retire and then the plan is to come to Wyoming.

Francis has had a bar before. In Wiggins, Colorado he owned a bar, hotel and refrigeration company for 18 years before he moved to Sacramento.

His experience with the Wiggins bar makes him aware of what the business requires to be successful, although he really does not want to change much about Dingy Dan's.

"I want to do a little interior decorating, get Monday night football and some pool tournaments and a few things like that," Francis said. "Do a little bit more than what Lois was doing and be that second wind to Dingy Dan's."

Lois is glad Francis is giving the breath of life to Dingy Dan's, but she said there have been some rough moments when she realized the bar won't be her responsibility any longer.

"At first I had really mixed feelings because it has been my life for 22 years," said Buchanan. "And it is like my final goodbye to Daniel, but now I am really excited."

Buchanan is in the process of studying for her CDL license so she can drive a school bus part time. She also feels there will be more time she can volunteer at Wee Folks preschool in Hanna.

Buchanan has some excellent memories of her time running Dingy Dan's. A favorite is her husband's 60th birthday party because it was just a great, fun occasion. Buchanan also enjoyed the fundraisers and benefits she was able to hold at the bar. The poker runs in her husband's memory started by T-Bone Lawson are always special every year they happen.

Daniel, Buchanans' husband, was the front man for Dingy Dan's as an entertainer and she was the person who managed the bar. When he passed away, her duties didn't really change, but his presence was missed, and although the venue was her social life in many ways, it wasn't the same without him.

She regrets she didn't keep a daily journal because she feels she would have a book on interesting people she has met over the years.

"Every day there was something interesting that happened," Buchanan said.

Buchanan had many customers of whom she has fond memories, but it is Don Graham she remembers as her favorite character.

"I always joked, if I sold the place, he would go as one of the fixtures," Lois laughs. "It got to the point, he thought he was the secretary, the boss–and even said he spent more time with me than Dan."

She says he would drive by her house in the morning to let her know he was ready to start his day at Dingy Dan's.

"He even had his stool and he would get angry with anyone who sat in it before he got there," said Lois. "Definitely the most interesting customer ever."

Lois said Graham passed away nine years ago and she misses his personality.

"I feel blessed so many people have come into my life and I really looked forward to seeing so many of them," said Lois. "I feel like I am giving my child to a good family."

Her last day working in Dingy Dan's was Sept.19.

Francis and Lois closed the deal on Sept. 20 and although the bar will be under a new owner, much of what customers love about Dingy Dan's will stay the same.

"We don't want to mess with success," Francis concluded.


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