Bishop keeps finger on city's pulse

Burger Hut owner Jennifer Bishop serves the restaurant's well-known burger and fries from her catering trailer during a recent trail ride at Tollgate.<br><I>Staff photo by Samantha Tipler

Jennifer Bishop could be the unofficial mayor of Milton-Freewater. She always knows what's going on.

She is the owner of the Burger Hut, the place to hang out when you're a teenager and the place to get a burger, fries and shake any time.

All Milton-Freewater information passes over her counter.

"I do a lot more talking to everybody than cooking,"?she said.

She talks to the guys who come in for coffee in the morning. She talks to high school students who come in during their lunch break. She talks to people who come in for lunch in the summertime. She talks to the other guys who come in for coffee in the afternoon.

"It's like a hub of knowledge in Milton-Freewater," Bishop said. "Someone will ask me what's going on, what's opening, what's closing. I usually know most of the goings-on in Milton-Freewater."

And Bishop cares about her customers.

For some of her regulars, she has their meals ready for them. She knows what they want and when they come to eat.

If Bishop doesn't see some of them for a couple days, she gets worried. She will call them to make sure they're OK.

"You learn to care about these people," she said. "I didn't know I'd develop such a closeness with my customers."

Bishop grew up in Milton-Freewater. She worked at the Burger Hut in high school and college. When she went to work at Unicel, she told the owners to give her a call if they ever wanted to sell.

About two and a half years ago, she got that call.

She worked with the owners, Dick and Linda Dombrosky, for about two weeks before taking over. She said most of the business was the same as when she was in high school.

Now the Dombroskys still come in, as employees, to help out. The original owners, Dick and Loretta Spiess, still drop in to see how things are going.

While she is keeping things up at the restaurant, Bishop is also expanding.

Last year she bought a catering trailer.

"We keep it parked by the side of Burger Hut and that's all the advertising we need,"?she said.

She takes it to events to serve the restaurant's classic burger and fries.

Even with running a restaurant - and catering businesses - Bishop said she still has time for a normal life. She will have enough time to take a vacation this summer. She gets enough help from the community and her employees that she knows the Burger Hut will always be in good hands.

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