Not too many people can say they grew up in Centennial. And of the select few who can, not too many are willing to admit it. So Jill Gustafson is a rare breed. Her parents, Chuck and Pat Claver, built a cabin up here in 1951, and that’s really when Jill began showing interest in owning a restaurant, making mud pies and forcing other local kids, mostly Murray Self, to eat them. But it wasn’t until much later in life, when Jill finally got to make her dream come true. She met Al Buick, a man who not only looks like he can build or fix almost anything, but who actually can build or fix almost anything (time permitting). They asked each other, “Should we start up a restaurant?” and then quickly decided, “No, that would be crazy.” It wasn’t until 10 years later, when they decided it would be a good idea and The Beartree Tavern & Cafe was born.
Here is a quick history of the building.
Two vibrant sisters and their husbands, Florence & Dave Vanberg and Lorraine and Swan Johnson, built the cafe in 1952 and named it the Chuck Wagon, a burger and malt shop with homemade pies--a successful endeavor. Notice the counter stools when you stop in, they are the original hand carved stools that Jill remembers being made by Swan and Dave.
The next memorable owner was Leona Barrons, in the late sixties. She and her two children kept the successful place on a roll for many years. Always the place for breakfast on a Sunday morning for a "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Good food and all the gossip from the night before.
Then of course, Murray Self and the infamous "Murf the Surf's." A legend of its own. Yes, this is the same Murray Self who used to eat Jill’s mud pies.
Next was the partnership of Phil Bolton and Tony Thunker, bringing the incredible, edible homemade pizza! These guys were renowned for bringing live music to the bar.
These were the great building blocks Jill Gustafson and Al Buick inherited when they purchased the establishment in 2001 and named it The Beartree Tavern & Cafe.