The Union Recorder

March 7, 2014

Buffington’s new ownership brings the family together

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Buffington’s has a successful niche in downtown Milledgeville. 

Longtime owner Charles Cruey passed off a well-oiled machine to new ownership last December.

The Hufstetler family completed an eight-month wait for an enviable business opportunity. Brothers Dave and Mike Jr. together with father Mike Sr. couldn’t slow down.

“The morning we bought it we all walked to the bank and came back across the street,” Dave said. “Buffington’s was open for lunch, and we owned it.”

Mike Jr., who moved his family to Milledgeville from Atlanta for Buffington’s, said it best.

“We bought a spinning wheel that we had to keep spinning immediately. There was no slow or down time for planning,” he said. “We bought this in motion and had to keep it that way.”

Cruey stayed as a liaison for 30 days.

“(Cruey) built a very good business with an established reputation, and one of the things that helped him decide to go through with the sale is the fact that he saw we wanted to work it as a family,” Mike Sr. said. “He wanted to make sure there was a good transition, and as far as I’m concerned, he went above and beyond after the closing.”

The Hufstetlers have finally caught up with the wheel after three months of ownership. Nearly 30 employees taught the owners standard operating procedures.

With all the pieces laid out, the Hufstetlers are completing a “more organized” picture without losing the old artist’s reputation.

Buffington’s is seeing incremental changes to the menu and beer selection most notably. The Hufstetlers are using the craft beer movement.

“We really just got in and did a lot of research using some of our guys behind the bar with a lot of experience and picked out some really top quality beers,” Mike Jr. said. “We try to keep a balance in the whole selection. Everybody has a different beer they want.”

Dave said the beer area is an easy place to “have the best of something.”

The Buff fields 54 bottle and 10 draft beers.

“I don’t know if it’s the largest selection, but it’s definitely the finest,” Mike Jr. said.

Happy Hour from 3 until 7 p.m. is a dollar off all beverages.

The restaurant features more than a burger and fries these days.

Steaks, salmon, fish and grits and a veggie burger are some diverse additions.

“If our customer wants it, we are going to find a way to get it to them,” Dave said. 

Buffington’s serves “man meals” for a menu shakeup.

“All of downtown seems to be baskets and fries. We wanted to step it up a little bit,” Mike Jr. said.

Visitors can look for a bar menu after the main kitchen closes as well. “Late night food,” like pork skins or finger food items, will be available until 1 a.m.

The new owners decided to open on Sundays, which looks like a smart decision so far.

“We didn’t anticipate the numbers we had immediately,” Mike Sr. said. “Word spread, and it’s done very well.”

The restaurant attracts locals and college students.

“It seems like it’s a place that everybody is welcome no matter who you are,” Mike Jr. said. 

The existing employees contribute to the open atmosphere at the eclectic spot.

Mike Sr. said the feel makes Buffington’s a popular place to work.

“When they are off duty, they hang out here,” he said.

A renewed focus on music and other entertainment events furnish patrons with another draw.

Acoustic Mondays from 7 to 10 p.m. yields “quiet, smooth music” for the working folks’ schedule.

Tuesday is karaoke, and Wednesdays offer popular trivia contests.

The Radio Birds and All The Locals are performing Saturday night starting at 11 p.m.

“We’ve done well with the bands,” Dave said. “We are learning who to book.”

Buffington’s is a feature stage for the upcoming ‘Sounds of the South’ April 4 and 5.

Future sound and lighting upgrades will make the business a consistent music venue.

The Hufstetlers hope to carve out a “food, music and beer niche.”

“We want to be a spot that you can come out and get something nice to eat, enjoy your favorite craft beer and listen to a great show,” Mike Jr. said. “Music will be a big part of the future of this place.”