When Reid Pyburn, founder and owner of High Horse Saloon & Eatery, was first approached by his business partner Jim Kisling about opening a restaurant, his high expectations were tempered by skepticism.
“The vision was mostly his in the beginning,” Reid admits. “ I thought it was maybe a little too nice for the neighborhood….but, it went over really, really well. It is still a neighborhood bar.”
Since entering this business venture in 2016, Reid has been blown away by the continued success and growth attained by the High Horse. Whether patrons join them for their big, 20 oz. Prime Rib breakfast, their mouth-watering daily lunch specials, or their signature “Fancy Effing Steaks” at dinnertime, the High Horse has dining options to satisfy people of all ages and appetites.
“We are a neighborhood honky tonk,” describes Reid. “We have food, we have a casino, we have a dance floor, we have a bar. We don’t want to be too fancy for anyone.” They focus on serving delicious meals that anyone can afford to enjoy.
“On 8am on a Saturday, you could be having breakfast here, with families eating and kids playing. Then, 14 hours later, the lights are down, the disco ball is up, live music is playing, and the bar is packed. It is a huge swing on what we do and offer, and the food is what allows us to gel it all together.”
Reid acknowledges that a huge part of the High Horse’s success is attributed to their head chef, Andy Glynn.
“We are family here, and he deserves as much credit as anybody for getting us to where we are,” says Reid. “His background is groceries. He was with Lucky’s Markets at a national level. His background lets he and I work well together.” Reid and Chef Andy strive to keep the menu creative, yet still appeal to local tastes.
“I roll pretty deep when it comes to talent at the restaurant,” Reid says, “both the front of house and the back of house are filled with amazing staff.”
A Background Rooted in Great Food and Great Service
Reid’s food service industry career began at The Rex in 1994, where he started as a dishwasher. He worked his way up to manager, and eventually ended his tenure at the iconic Billings’ landmark in 2015.
“That was my only experience,” he recounts. “I left there and went on a sabbatical. I checked out bigger markets, different bars and casinos and restaurants all across the country…kind of saw the world, in a way.”
After this time spent traveling and diversifying his knowledge of the industry, Reid was approached by Jim Kisling. As a long time customer at The Rex, Jim was familiar with Reid’s talent for running a successful eatery and bar. The rest is history.
Yet, Reid is forever grateful for his time spent at The Rex, which laid the foundation for a culinary career.
“My mentor was Gene Burgad. He was the owner of The Rex. He taught me how to do it all,” remembers Reid. “He was a Billings icon.”
Catering, Events, and More
The High Horse Saloon offers catering and event services for parties of all shapes and sizes. From hosting a 200 guest wedding reception within the restaurant itself, to providing food for office parties at a local park, the team will find a way to make every event a great experience.
“We like to talk to our clients and find out their needs and wants” Reid says. “If they have an idea that isn’t on the menu, that’s no problem. We can build the menu around them.”
Although hosting live music events has been more challenging during the pandemic, the High Horse typically offers music and dancing every weekend.
“We like to provide entertainment on a weekly basis,” adds Reid, “whether it be a band, a comedian, or a DJ. Our hope is that as things open up and return to normalcy, we can begin to have a more regular schedule.”
Their casino provides another outlet for patrons. Under the same roof as the restaurant, guests in the casino may order from the entire High Horse menu while playing. There is also a members program and a patio.
In December 2019, Reid married Shawna Pyburn. The pair owns and oversees the operations of the High Horse. Shawna shares Reid’s passion for the industry, whether they are catering for a large group, providing weekend entertainment, or finding new, creative menu options. She reiterates the importance of Reid’s time working for Gene Burgad and how it shaped his path to success.
“Reid always knew he would open a bar one day,” Shawna shares. “When the opportunity came to purchase Montana Chad’s, the restaurant came with it.” Since the beginning, the menu has included Reid’s family recipes and chef created homemade hearty meals.
“Moving forward to 2020, we now offer our 20oz prime rib and 14oz ribeye for breakfast lunch and dinner 7 days a week. We feed a lot of shift workers who at 8am can get a good dinner and cocktail,” explains Shawna. “We are also trying to ‘think outside of the box’ when it comes to creating COVID safe ways to feed groups. In the restaurant world, we have all had to adapt. I have this new concept of Lunch and Dinner Boxes. I want it to be like opening a subscription box. When you open it it's all about the presentation and you are just as excited to see it as you are to dig in.
For both Reid and Shawna, the staff at the High Horse are family. They always want to be welcoming and gracious hosts, ready to serve. After nearly 3 decades in the food industry, Reid considers himself very fortunate.
“I love that I get to continue to do what I enjoy and what I am good at,” he concludes. “I am surrounded by an amazing team, and I am very lucky to be where I am today.”
**Cocktails in Photos: Blackberry Grapefruit Lemonade and House Margarita. Also in the photo High Mule.