Thunder & Buttons changes hands; will keep flying theme
The duo that brought Thunder & Buttons back to Old Colorado City three-plus years ago is moving on.
Owner Barb Walker, who was aided from the outset by manager/now husband Steve Wiley, has sold the business at 2415 W. Colorado Ave. to Jeff Mielke and his wife, Hillary Habeeb.
The sale continues the T&B's Air Force Academy connection. Like Walker, Mielke (class of '80) is an AFA graduate. His experience includes flying on the Air Force's Thunderbirds jet demonstration team and serving in Desert Storm (the Persian Gulf War). In fact, it was T&B's “aviation theme” - the logo shows a young female aviator in front of a bi-plane - that attracted them the first time they went to the restaurant/nightclub, Habeeb said.
“Old Colorado City is a great place and Thunder & Buttons has a great tradition,” Mielke said. “We're excited about it.”
That tradition dates back to 1979, when the original T&Bs opened, then continued into the '90s. For a dozen years it was a Beau Jo's pizza place, then sat empty again before Walker decided to start a place with the original style and name - technically “Thunder & Buttons II” - that she recalled from her cadet days.
The sale, completed this week, was largely prompted by health issues. Walker, who had been a working commercial pilot in '04, was struck by cancer over a year ago. The disease is currently in remission, but running the business afterward proved stressful. “It was fun, but we are looking forward to a more relaxed lifestyle,” she said. She added that she's “happy that a fellow Academy alumni is going to keep Thunder and Buttons going and probably will do a much better job than we ever did.”
Mielke and Habeeb don't plan any immediate changes for the two-story establishment. Most of the current staff, including chef Lars Seebohm and manager Diane Dimbat, are reportedly staying on.
Mielke and Habeeb met in Las Vegas, where he had worked for the Air Force for the last 18 years, and she the last 4. They were married a year ago.
Mielke believes they are well-matched for their new business. He has a degree in contract management, while she has considerable business experience, including working as a buyer for Foot Locker in New York.
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