TORRINGTON – Not that long ago, Tiffany Leslie was an 18–year–old with a 15–month–old and newborn, without her husband around. Today, she is the owner of two businesses – Broncho Bar and Broncho Grillhouse – and made the climb to ownership after waiting tables at the bar.
Leslie was a waitress for 10 years, including three years managing the bar. Now, at just 31 years old, she has more than 25 employees, including five managers, “pretty much” all of whom used to be Leslie’s coworkers, said Leslie, who can’t believe she has reached the top of the business ladder at her age.
“It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of sacrifice, but it does pay off in the end, the hard work does,” Leslie said. “Besides, I’m stubborn; I don’t want to give up.”
The biggest challenge Leslie has faced over the past 10 years has been managing work and family, Leslie said.
“Obviously, in this type of business, you never know if one night is going to be busier than the next,” Leslie said.
Leslie has been called in to help at the bar while being at one of her children’s school functions. She has had to say that she cannot be there for an hour.
“I’m not going to miss my child’s school function,” Leslie said. “It’s learning to balance.”
With finding a babysitter at night being easier than finding childcare during the day, Leslie has been grateful for her mother’s help – though the mom has moved now – and she has taken turns with bartenders watching each other’s children.
And being at the top feels good, Leslie said.
“You feel like you are on top of the world,” Leslie remarked.
Leslie used the word “stubborn” multiple times to describe why she has reached the height in business she is at now. While saying that business ownership can be intimidating, Leslie refuses to back down from a challenge she loves the increased responsibility of being a business owner.
“It’s a different feeling,” said Leslie, who said she would not ask her employees to do something she wouldn’t do. She also noted that she is always seeking to make the bar and restaurant better.
She can feel that way because she refused to give up, she said. She hit that crisis of being so young with two babies, and a third at 20 years old while being without her former husband Matthew Boyden, who was deployed for 15 months to Iraq. She was in Fort Riley, Kansas, at the time.
Leslie had friends in Fort Riley who supported her, but said “yes. I’ve come a long way.”
While she had more energy at the time, Leslie described the experience as “tiresome.
“It was challenging,” Leslie said. “It was an eye-opener.”
Boyden died in 2016. Suffering from depression related to post traumatic stress disorder.
“But he was a great person.” Leslie said.
Remarried now, Leslie expressed gratitude to her husband, Joseph Leslie, who she married in 2015, for his support in her business ownership. Leslie described Joseph as her handy man.
Leslie is “slowly teaching (Joseph) how to do different things.”
“If you ask him, this is my deal, but he helps out a lot,” Leslie said. “Whenever he can, he comes in and helps me.”
Victoria Stromski, a server who works for Leslie, had nothing but positive words for Leslie.
“She doesn’t care about us just at work,” Stromski said. “She cares about our families and making the restaurant the best that it can be about our communities as a whole.”
Leslie wanted to own the bar and grill because of her nearly 10 years worth of work there and figured she would try to own the establishment she was already running.
“Just another step for me,” Leslie said. “And the people in this area are great. They are very nice people.”
And, Leslie has always wanted to own the establishments. The bar has been in existence for six or seven decades, Leslie said.
“I was really excited,” Leslie said.
Leslie bought the business from Deb restaurant Gene Quest, who bought the grill in 2015 after buying the bar in 2009. The Quests, who were local to the area, have retired and moved to Arizona.
Speaking further on being a business owner at just age 31, Leslie said “it’s a huge accomplishment.
“I know I’ll do well. I know the people; I know the town,” she said. “I’m just super excited to have this opportunity. It’s an amazing feeling, especially with the almost 10 years of hard work here and slowly building myself up.”
People have been shocked that Leslie is the owner.
“It’s what determination will do for you,” Leslie said.
Leslie has owned the establishments since Sept. 1. Her biggest challenge to acquiring them was getting all of the required licenses.
“With the help of a lot of good people in town, they put me on the way,” Leslie said.
Folks in the community helped her learn what forms to fill out and how to go about all of that.
“I’m just glad the community has supported me. Obviously, with the restaurant, you need a lot of community support,” Leslie said when asked for any other comment about her new station in life. She noted the friendliness of people in town and said the city staff helped her with every step along the way.
“The community supporting us goes a long way, especially in a small town this size,” Leslie said. “You need the help of your community.”
Leslie has sought to help as many local businesses as possible, from hiring carpet cleaners and vendors to donating to schools.
“Whenever the schools come in, (I) try to donate as much as possible,” Leslie said.
Leslie’s vision is to bring different specials to the family-oriented restaurant – she was meeting just an hour and 15 minutes after talking about her vision about how to allow children to eat free on Tuesdays. She is already offering a $10 gift card at the grill for those who make 10 purchases of $10 or more and half-priced appetizers between 4 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. In the bar, she is offering free pool on Monday nights; pool leagues on Wednesdays; karaoke on Thursday nights; a band or DJ on Friday and Saturday nights; and free food during Denver Broncos games.
“We try to do a different thing every week,” Leslie said. All the food is cooked in their kitchen.
Leslie would like to bring in more bands – she wants to travel around Wyoming to see new bands.
“My husband and I talked about going to Laramie or Casper,” Leslie said.
Leslie noted that while the bar business is generally male-oriented, that has never been an issue in town. She also noted her role in breaking down barriers of being a woman in bar ownership.
Her former coworkers are now calling her “boss lady” instead of Tiff.
“They tease me about it, but it’s all in good fun,” Leslie said. “It’s a hard line you have to walk … you develop those friendships and so sometimes there is business and then there is friendship. Sometimes that line you have to walk is a little difficult.”
Leslie also promoted one of her bartenders, Kristen McGuire, to a managerial position after hiring three new employees within the last six months. Leslie has worked with McGuire for five years.
“She’s been great,” Leslie said.
Leslie also complimented the employees on keeping the establishments up to speed on when tasks need to be done, like when heat needs to be turned on, when furnace filters need to be changed and when certain things need to be inspected.
Leslie has four children – three girls and a boy – today, including a son,with Joseph Leslie.
“I told my husband, we’ve got one chance at this, so make it count,” Leslie said. “My husband doesn’t feel so outnumbered now.”
Leslie is from Omaha, Neb., and came to Torrington from Fort Riley to get help from her mother with her children.
Leslie said that her life experiences have helped with her business.
“It’s made me mature,” Leslie said. “I’m an old soul.”