By Dave Maxwell
Former Windmill Ridge Restaurant and cabin owners Kris Higbee and Kim Turley have announced they are taking back Windmill Ridge from the Girl Scouts, and plan to reopen at a yet to be determined date.
The women owned and operated a restaurant in a small location where the Alamo Diner is now, but built a larger facility, Windmill Ridge, in 2006.
They sold that to the Charles and Phyllis Frias Charitable Trust of Las Vegas in 2008. “Mrs. Frias loved Alamo. She loved coming here and knowing the people,” Turley said.
Higbee stayed to manage Windmill Ridge for two more years until a new manager was brought in.
In December 2018, the Frias Charitable Trust closed Windmill Ridge and in January 2019, announced it was donating the restaurant, cabins, and another Trust property in Alamo, the Cowboy’s Dream, to the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.
However, not long afterwards, Turley said she learned the Girl Scouts didn’t really know what to do with a restaurant and cabins and thought maybe she and Higbee could work out a lease from the Trust to take the restaurant back and operate it themselves again.
Higbee said shortly after Christmas she called Las Vegas attorney John Mowbray, a Frias Charitable group trustee, and presented the idea. “He said, ‘You know, I think this phone call was inspiration. The Girl Scouts don’t really know what to do with that property. I will pass your name on to them.’ So, through further contacts and visiting with the Girl Scouts, the opportunity came for us to lease the facility and reopen it.”
The Cowboy’s Dream will stay with the Girls Scouts.
Higbee said, “Windmill is a part of our lives. We are excited to have the chance to see it succeed again. It was a wonderful place when we had it, and we want to bring that feeling and atmosphere back.”
Turley said, “We want the townspeople to come back and provide a bit faster service to the customers plus some menu changes, but that’s not fully defined as yet. Probably bring back our popular salads as well.”
She said, “Kris and I have learned from all of the things we can look back on. That’s what’s exciting. We’re not going into this blinded like we were before. We know our mistakes and what we need to change and we expect to be able to do so.”
There is some remodeling and repairs to be done before the facility will be open for business again and just how long that might take, neither woman could say.
Higbee said, though, she does hope to reopen the cabins for travelers in the next couple of weeks. “I’ve started taking reservations even now.”
“We are going to have a drive-thru window,” Turley said, “which is where a person can pick up an order they phoned in. But it’s not going to have a reader board menu that you stop at first and order over a speaker.”
Higbee’s daughter, Milly Walch, is also hoping to have a soda bar, a specialty shop offering a variety of soft drink flavors and ice cream. And they plan to continue the bakery, which had proved quite popular.
Turley, who owns a beauty shop in Alamo, said she has pretty much turned that over to six other beauticians who rent chairs from her. “I will probably just be there once a week or less, mostly for pedicures.”
She said, “We are excited and delighted to get Windmill reopened. We built it for the valley, to employ people. It is something that is needed.”