After moving approximately 5,000 miles combined, Lilah Ellis, Richard Barnes, and Brian Priest have settled into their new home of Dubois. So much so, that they opened their second eatery, The Lone Burrito, earlier this month.
The name might sound like the fine dining steakhouse there in Dubois too – you are correct. Lilah, Richard, and Brian opened The Lone Buffalo Steakhouse in June 2019.
The steakhouse is their “baby,” as Lilah put it. They built it from the ground up with the main goal of getting “steak on a plate.”
Opening a taco shop had been on their minds as the next step for a little while. Richard grew up working in his family’s Mexican restaurants, and with the blessing of his Grandma Gloria, he is able to use her famous rice and beans recipe at The Lone Burrito. As well as, her secret to marinating carne asada.
The taco shop really started coming together in March of this year when they purchased a cabin at 106 Ramshorn. You may recall this was around the same time that restaurants could only do takeout due to public health orders.
While packaging their prime hand-cut steaks, and handmade pasta in takeout boxes for 8-weeks; they were also ripping up the flooring, electrical and putting “some love into” the cabin that has housed a few other restaurants in its time.
“We were able to devote our own physical man-hours into getting this place up in running,” Lilah shared. “It wouldn’t have happened as fast if we were fully open and staffed.”
Combined, Richard and Lilah have over 50 years of restaurant experience. Richard is a professional chef and Lilah has always worked in the front-of-house. They met while working at a fine dining restaurant in Maui.
While Lilah was born and raised on the Big Island; Wyoming was always her home, she explained. Her mom lived in Wyoming before moving to Hawaii, so she spent a lot of time here while growing up.
About two years ago, they evaluated where they were at with Island-life. With their two-year-old daughter in mind, they decided to be closer to family and provide experiences for her, like long road trips, that can only happen on the Mainland.
Richard threw out the idea of moving to Montana, where he lived before Hawaii. They eventually landed on Dubois so they could be close to Lilah’s mom who now resided there.
After some time of getting to know Dubois residents and them sharing some not so subtle hints on how they’d love to have a steakhouse, Lilah and Richard began to seriously consider opening their own restaurant.
Brian who went to Corpsman School with Richard came out for a visit as he was in the beginnings of a career change from being a respiratory therapist in Birmingham, Alabama to owning his own business. And as a lot of folks do, he fell in love with Dubois.
The three of them are now equal partners in not one, but two eateries in Dubois. Richard remains the chef, Lilah is front-of-house, and Brian fills in all the gaps.
All of their food is fresh and never frozen. They are part of a specialty meats program and source their vegetables from Lake View Gardens in Pavillion. For specials, they overnight fresh fish from the Honolulu Fish Company. (I was lucky enough to visit when they had seared Hawaiian Ono tacos. – 👇)
The Lone Burrito is not a Mexican restaurant, Lilah reiterated. They are a taco shop where you can also grab a burger, hot dog, or a gyro. The authenticity comes from everything being homemade.
Where did the name come from?
We all had some thrown into the pot, Lilah explained. We all couldn’t agree on one. In March, we went to the snowmobile hill climbs in Jackson, and driving by the field of buffalos; I saw there was one up on the hill under the tree. I said it out loud, what about The Lone Buffalo? And both of them were like, yeah, I like that. We just kind of ran with it from there. Brian said since they have The Lone Buffalo, they ought to call the taco shop The Lone Burrito.
Lilah, Richard and Brian all gave many thanks to the Dubois residents who have supported them. They also praised their staff and how awesome they have been through all of this.
While no specifics were shared during our interview, we can likely see more from the three of them in the coming years. They shared local feedback on what would folks like to have in Dubois is always appreciated.