Restaurateur beats the 'devil' of job, home losses, other hardships
PRESCOTT - David and Amy Seigler, owners of Devil's Pantry on Whiskey Row here, are rebounding from financial ruin by drawing a steady crowd on weekdays and weekend nights.
The Seiglers opened Devil's Pantry May 28 at 126 S. Montezuma St., and now average $25,000 in sales a month, David said. David and Amy, who manages the cafeteria at Prescott High School besides working in the restaurant two to three days a week, run a thriving business with sales double his initial projections.
They have 11 employees, including daughters Stephanie, 18, and Katie, 12.
Seigler, 44, has gone from donning suits to work in his previous career for 15 years in the nonprofit profession to wearing blue jeans, cowboy boots and a Wrangler cowboy hat at Devil's Pantry.
He lost a job a few years ago as vice president of community relations and development at Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, where he worked for about four years.
"The economy crashed, which made my position evaporate," he said.
Seigler said he looked for three and a half years for another nonprofit position in the county.
"I tried some other jobs," he said. "I sold insurance, and I was pastoral assistant to the (Prescott United) Methodist Church. I did odd jobs here and there, and I took some volunteer positions to keep myself busy."
Amy, a stay-at-home mom for their four children, took a job managing the kitchen at Prescott Mile High Middle School, he said. (She transferred to the high school this past Wednesday.)
Meanwhile, Seigler said he lost his house and his car, and moved the family into a rental.
He came up with this business idea while managing the successful City Council campaign in Prescott in 2011 for Chris Kuknyo, a friend since they attended high school in the mid-1980s.
Kuknyo told him the Boy Scouts earned $10,000 selling bottled water, soft drinks and hot dogs during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011.
Inspired, Seigler said he opened a beef jerky business out of his home, and sold beef jerky briefly at the Yavapai County Courthouse and at Mortimer Family Farms in Dewey-Humboldt.
He decided to open his own restaurant because a non-compete clause prevented him from selling deep-fried Twinkies at the courthouse plaza.
He prepared a business plan that required an initial investment of $225,000, and sought financing from people he knew and by advertising on Craig's List. Seigler said a widow agreed to loan him $100,000 because she believed in supporting local businesses.
Seigler looked for a location on Whiskey Row, and chose space where three restaurants formerly operated. "We did traffic surveys," Seigler said. "We determined that this was the most high-value, high-volume spot."
Devil's Pantry stands out with an awning bearing the letters of the business in red and yellow flames. The restaurant entices foot traffic with long hours and menu items ranging in price from $2 to $9.50.
Devil's Pantry opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays except on holiday weekends.
Menu items include bacon-wrapped corndogs, fish and chips, hamburgers, funnel cake, caramel apple fries and root-beer floats. Seigler said he fries food with peanut oil.
"Our target market when we opened was tourists and late night," Seigler said. "And it was great. We met our market very well."
Besides serving the late-night club-goers, Devil's Pantry draws city and Yavapai County government employees during the week, and delivers to nearby shopkeepers.
"Now we are changing more as a luncheon focus as the season changes," Seigler said.
The new menu, which goes into effect Thursday, will have six sandwiches, homemade soups and appetizers, Seigler said.
Wife Amy said, "We are constantly looking at new and creative ways to add to our menu."
Amy said her job running a school cafeteria does not conflict with running a restaurant. Devil's Pantry offers specials on Wednesdays when classes are over early at the middle and high schools.
Gypsy Jackson, a sixth-grader at the middle school, showed up with several female classmates this past Wednesday.
"All the people are like really nice and they have really cool stuff," Gypsy, 11, said.
For more information, call Devil's Pantry at 277-0726.
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