For some The Pioneer Saloon is the first restaurant to head to when coming into town and the last place to go before leaving. For others, it's where they met their significant other, perhaps over a bar marg. For the Witmer family, it's their Ketchum legacy.
The Pioneer Saloon... Or the Commercial Club as it was called originally, was opened in the 1940's as a gambling casino operated by Otis Hobbs. A few years later the casino was closed and the American Legion then took it over and used it as a meeting hall. For a short time, the building was converted into a dry goods store.
Around 1950 the building was reopened as a gambling casino by Whitey Hirschman who named it Pioneer Saloon. Although never legal in Idaho, gambling flourished in Ketchum until 1953 when the law intervened. Whitey operated the Pioneer as a bar and a colorful antique store until the spring of 1965.
In the mid 60's, the Pioneer was redesigned as a restaurant. The present version of the Pioneer Saloon dates from 1972 — hence the phrase "Where were you in 72", the theme of our annual Pio Days celebration held each November.
Over the years there have been some notable additions and remodels. In 1984, the downstairs dining room was added in a summer-long project. In 2002, the building front was reconstructed from stucco to its to its present wooden form. In the same year, the back bar was redesigned by Doug Tedrow of Wood River Rustics. In May of 2012, new interior woodwork was added, new lighting was installed and many new artifacts were put on display.
Duffy and Sheila Witmer have been the sole owners of the Pioneer Saloon since 1986. Today, with their children, Alyson, Chloe and Dillon, they strive to honor a historical classic while bringing new ideas to Ketchum's restaurant scene.
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