It could have been a classic Old West showdown: The new kid in town challenging an established veteran. But there's no hard feelings in the living ghost town of Chloride, where a new bar and restaurant has sprouted up next to Yesterday's Restaurant in the center of town.
"The owner of Yesterday's stopped by one day when everything was going wrong," said Dave Hunderfund, the owner of Digger Dave's. "He had a big bouquet of flowers and the card said, 'Good luck.'
"He knows I'm going to need it," Hunderfund cracked.
Yesterday's owner John McNeely said he welcomes his new neighbor.
"Business brings business," he said. "The more the merrier."
It's that spirit of cooperation and community that first attracted Hunderfund to Chloride after he moved there to work on the six-mile pipeline that restored the town's aging and inadequate water system. It was a demanding job in the sun and cost him 17 pounds, but it sparked a love for the mining town that prides itself on personality.
It's one thing to relocate and quite another to try and establish a business from scratch. Hunderfund said 45 years of working outdoors had taken its toll and he finally wanted to put a roof over his head.
Both Hunderfund and his girlfriend of six years, Dori Vaughn, have restaurant management experience, but neither had owned their own place. They decided to purchase the former B S's Café and Saloon, which was sitting vacant at the entrance to the downtown.
The couple sank about $100,000 into the purchase and renovation of the building, which took a year and a half to remodel.
"The building was blue inside and out," Hunderfund said.
The new digs aren't fancy, but keep with Chloride's character of preserving the past. There are two vintage pinball machines (no quarters required!), a classic rock jukebox, a lamp made from caribou antlers and no shortage of antiques to look at on the walls and ceilings. Outside in the back garden are some pieces of Digger Dave's equipment used to build the Chloride water pipeline, along with some antique mining and gas station equipment.
In the winter, he anticipates having a bonfire out back to keep revelers warm. There's also the potential for live music and other outdoor events.
The restaurant's menu is basic bar fare, but Hunderfund already has theme nights (Taco Tuesdays, Spaghetti Wednesdays and the future barbecue Thursdays). The restaurant also serves breakfast.
"Every morning I get up and cover the grill in bacon and sausage," Hunderfund said. "It smells amazing in here."
The remodel has been a labor of love for Hunderfund and Vaughn, who said they are grateful for the support from the townspeople, who have gone so far as to lend the couple money in their endeavor. Hunderfund used prized possessions including his motorcycle and tools as collateral to prove to them he'd make good on his word.
"When we came to town, we just fell in love," he said. "We fit right in."