The Buckhorn Steakhouse
The De Vilbiss Hotel was constructed on the corner of Main and Railroad Avenue in Winters in 1889 by John A. De Vilbiss, a prominent Winters rancher. It was described as the first building of architectural proportions erected in Winters. The two-story brick building’s ground dimensions are 80 x 120 feet.
Mr. Cook of Sacramento was the architect. The first floor contained an office, bar, dining room, large kitchen, and two business rooms. There were two staircases leading to the second floor which had 40 sleeping rooms and a parlor. The original furnishings were elegant and excellent. The Hotel had its own gas machines to supply the chandeliers and the Montague Patent French Range in the kitchen. The hotel De Vilbiss withstood the devastating earthquake of 1892, which leveled most of Winters, but the 72 foot cupola was destroyed by fire in 1915.
De Vilbiss owned the Hotel until 1896 when it was sold to I.V Hughes. Hughes operated it until 1917, when T.H Fenley purchased the building to house his grocery and hardware store.
In the 1930’s De Vilbiss’ son-in-law, Joe “Boggs” Griffin reacquired the building and moved his bar into it, following the repeal of the prohibition Amendment.Joe ran the bar with his offspring “Son” Griffin, and during this time a Chinese, and then an Italian restaurant was in operation.
In 1951, De Vilbiss’ great-grandson, Ben Stephens took over, becoming a fixture at the Buckhorn Bar for a quarter century, retiring in 1976. From 1967 to 1977, Burma and Vic Mentink operated the Buckhorn Dining Room.
John Pickerel acquired the business in 1980. In 1991 Melanie Bajakian-Pickerel, John’s wife, refurbished the “De Vilbiss Room” bringing back the charm and décor of the original architecture. A hundred years later, the same spirit of friendliness that made the Hotel De Vilbiss popular at the turn of the century, is still found at the Buckhorn; now famous across the state for its beef, lamb and fresh fish.