The Pig Iron is now open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday

TEMPLETON — When Taylor Odenwald was working his first job as a busser for AJ Spurs in Templeton, he joked that one day he was going to own AJ Spurs. Little did he know that he was right.

In late 2020, Odenwald convinced some friends to purchase the AJ Spurs building with him. All locals from San Luis Obispo County, together are bringing a new concept to Templeton’s Main Street while restoring and maintaining the historical value of the building.

“It has always been a special spot to all of us. I’ve been joking for the last 15 years that someday I’m going to own AJ Spurs,” says Odenwald.

Templeton has always been a small community whose Main Street is still home to some of the town’s original buildings. Prior to ever becoming AJ Spurs, the building was called The Templeton Mercantile through the 1970s and at one point owned by the Peterson Family. The Peterson’s also owned a hardware store across the street–we know it now as Hewitt’s Hardware.

The building has seen many phases throughout its years. It was at one time a butcher shop, a grocery, and a member of the Finley family had a girls finishing school on the South end of the building. From the 1960s to the early 1980s, the building was turned into the Iron Horse restaurant. The Iron Horse owners built the infamous bar that all Templeton locals know all too well.

Then AJ Spurs came into town. Now many of us in the area probably hold the AJ Spurs days close to our hearts. It was where we went for endless campfire beans and tiny breadsticks. For the kids who grew up within its western walls, it was rootbeer floats and getting your plastic toy from the safe on your way out the door. It was birthday dinners, graduation celebrations, and everything in between.

Odenwald and his friends knew what AJs meant to the community. They understood the historical value of the building. He explains, “One of the biggest motivations jumping into it [buying the building] was we didn’t want something bad to happen to this place–we appreciate the building. We felt like downtown needed to still have this restaurant as an option.”

The friends, and new entrepreneurs, were a collection of people with different specialties and backgrounds. Odenwald and Wyatt Ayers are both local contractors. Seth Roberts is a professional Artist, Jeremy Limpic works in Marketing Technology, and Joe Daniels is a Journeyman Machinist.

While none of them have opened and owned a restaurant before, Odenwald says that’s just fine, “We have experience with Templeton. That’s our qualification.”

The owners of Templeton Mercantile have pulled in talented locals to create their vision. From contractors to tile and concrete and the menu, Odenwald said, “Everybody has chipped in. Since day one, everybody wants us to succeed. A lot of people share our vision. It’s a passion project.”

The owners’ vision is to bring the Templeton Mercantile back to life. There will be three establishments within the mercantile. In December, the first phase of the mercantile opened, The Pig Iron.

The Pig Iron has a California comfort food concept. Their open patio is equipped with heaters and a bonfire so customers can enjoy wintery nights without being miserably cold. Plus, with their handcrafted cocktail and coffee bar, they can whip up any drink to keep you toasty.

Inside the restaurant is a fresh new look where the building has been updated but again keeps the historical value of the place. Old photos of the Templeton Mercantile hang on the walls, and every inch of the building’s kitchen has been renovated. Something about the place just makes you smile.

A main focus for the owners was to buy local and use local services. They strive to get whatever local ingredients they can from the farmers market, and why not when one of the best farmers markets in San Luis Obispo County is right up the street! Local goods are also sold in their miniature mercantile room.

Big ideas are in store for the rest of the building. Ms. Finley’s Finishing School will be coming back, except this time as a cocktail lounge. And the middle of the building will be transformed with The Engine Room, which has plans to become a renewed steakhouse.

Bringing back the Templeton Mercantile has truly been a labor of Templetonion love. While we anxiously wait for the rest of the building to open, we can surely enjoy the Pig Iron and dream of what is yet to come.

For more information, visit: pigirontempleton.com or templetonmercantile.com

Pig Iron is now open the following hours:

Wednesday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Thursday: 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Friday: 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Saturday: 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.