This postman always rings true - to his ideals. Owner Dale Hoaglan has been a Spring Hill postal service employee for many years. In addition to his dedication to on-time delivery, he has a passion for giving back to Hernando County.
Hoaglan has done a lot of work with the Dawn Center and Hospice, and is now stepping-up his philanthropic values with the opening of Tijuana Cowboys on Dec. 4. Assistant Manager Regina DeGraw gave the scoop on this local watering hole with a twist.
"The name came to Dale in a dream; no kidding," said DeGraw. "He was also inspired by the huge painting of cowboy boots hanging over our bar. It used to be in his living room."
Cowboys' servers wear jeans, shorts or skirts with a trademarked "Tijuana Cowboys" white shirt that they don in various creative ways. Everyone wears boots and a cowboy hat. The food is typical pub fare, not Mexican. Appetizers range in price from $3.75 to $10 and include wings, fries, poppers and other fried fare. Other menu items are hot, cold, pressed or open-faced subs and sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers, priced from $3.50 to $8.50.
DeGraw says the sandwiches are so big, "I have to stand back to take a bite."
Bartender Valerie Valvo agrees, and joked "I don't have to do much selling to get people to try the food. It's excellent."
The kitchen is managed by Frank King, who's been in food management since age 15.
"I always wanted to cook," said King. "I studied culinary arts and have spent much of my career working in 'mom and pop' establishments. I insist on everything being homemade, fresh and clean."
Frequent customer Ted Keenan is a retired New York City firefighter. He praised the pastrami as being "delicious, tender and tasty."
Keenan had been actively collecting donations for Tijuana Cowboys' concert and fundraiser this past Sunday.
"The Sunday fundraiser was a labor of love and result of many hands working together," Keenan said.
DeGraw said she's amazed at how many strangers came by to see how they could help.
"Everyone wants to be part of something that's bigger than themselves," she said.
The fundraiser was a concert event and auction to benefit the family of 9-year-old Eusebio Roberto Gomez, an Explorer K-8 student who died on Dec.18. Donations included a brand new side-by-side refrigerator, guitars, Caribbean cruises, sports memorabilia, dozens of gift certificates and other giveaways from local retailers, and free performances by Without Smith and other local bands.
"We have lots of angels helping here, all the time," said DeGraw.
Rick Sechrist is one such 'go-to guy' who frequently stops by to lend a hand in whatever way is needed.
"God puts good people in front of you," said Sechrist. "When tragedy strikes, everyone comes together."
Hoaglan's dream was to open something that would specifically be a venue for fundraisers. Shortly after opening their doors, that dream came true when Tijuana Cowboys hosted a holiday party for more than 100 local children. Hoaglan played Santa.
"We had so many gifts donated, it was unbelievable," says DeGraw. "Some parents told us the gifts their children received would be the biggest gifts they would get this year. It is just so sad that our economy is making it so hard for young families to make ends meet."
Gifts for the holiday party were donated from many local businesses, friends and families of employees. According to DeGraw, many of their employees are struggling single moms themselves.
"Dale will help anybody if it's within his means to do so," DeGraw said. "It's so important for people that live here to know we're here for them and that we want to give back."
Sports are the main attraction on Sundays and Mondays. The restaurant boasts seven large flat panel TVs plus a giant-sized screen in the main dining area. Live music is offered Wednesday through Saturday (primarily rock 'n' roll and country), and line dancing is planned for the future. They are currently auditioning bands. Interested musicians should stop by or call for more information.
Tijuana Cowboys is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. During the day they're a family-oriented sports bar. At 10 p.m. they setup the grill outside and serve ribs, hot dogs, burgers and sausages.
"The aroma is attracting lots of interest," King says. "Stopping by the grill is becoming a popular activity for many area residents. They can sit in the parking lot and eat or come inside and enjoy some friendly company while having a bite."
DeGraw says business has been picking up slowly and steadily.
"We're taking little steps," she says. "Everybody's capable of helping somebody else. That's what we're all about. We hope lots of groups and individuals will use our facility to host fundraisers."
Biz at a glance
Name - Tijuana Cowboys.
Location - 1365 Kass Circle, Spring Hill.
Telephone - 352-610-4385.
E-mail - TijuanaCowboys@Yahoo.com.