The Buckhorn Tavern owners saw the educational needs in San Antonio and decided to do something about it by partnering with the Community Foundation of Southern NM to offer a scholarship that will help students with tuition and transportation costs.
Tucked away in quiet San Antonio, N.M. is The Buckhorn Tavern, owned and operated by Ernie and Stephanie Sichler. Giving back is part of how the Sichlers do business.
Since a public library does not exist in their small town, a little free library is set up in front of the restaurant for the community to use. They host “Warrior Wednesdays” where 10 percent of the restaurant’s proceeds are donated to participating local nonprofit organizations. They even recycle and sell the aluminum cans used at their restaurant and give the profits to San Antonio Elementary School to purchase books.
The Buckhorn Tavern didn’t always belong to the Sichler family. Stephanie, who is from Las Cruces, was on a work trip in Albuquerque in 2019 when she heard the news that the restaurant–which was located in her husband’s hometown–was officially closing. With Ernie’s strong food and beverage background and passion for cooking, they knew they could not let this beloved New Mexico establishment close its doors and decided to embark on the journey of becoming restaurateurs.
They packed up their lives and moved from Las Cruces to San Antonio, N.M., rolling up their sleeves to bring the restaurant back to life. During this process, they got to truly know the team of staff members that worked alongside them and realized there were many obstacles the hardworking people in their community had to face. Several of their staff members were not able to attend trade schools or community colleges, and some didn’t even have the opportunity to complete high school or receive their GEDs.
Stephanie had previously worked at the Community Foundation of Southern NM and always said that one day she wanted to be able to give back and make a difference. The idea to create The Buckhorn Tavern Scholarship Endowment Fund to help the community she and Ernie now called home seemed like a natural fit. The scholarship was established to not only provide tuition assistance but also help with transportation issues that sometimes can be a barrier in a small, rural community.
“As business owners, we have seen the problems employees can have with transportation and how it can even be hard to get to work somedays,” said Ernie.
The scholarship will support tuition costs for trade schools, community colleges, or GED test fees and will also cover the transportation costs to help recipients get to GED testing sites in Los Lunas or Albuquerque.
When asked why they felt it was important to give back, Ernie and Stephanie said “Being business owners in a small community and being able to support our employees, friends and neighbors is important–it is how we grew up. Our community supports us by being our employees, by walking through our doors and ordering a burger, and through this scholarship, we are now able to support them.”
To learn more about scholarship opportunities, visit at www.cfsnm.org. Apply directly online for the Buckhorn Tavern Scholarship. The application is simple and will open up other potential scholarship opportunities.
For more information about the Buckhorn Tavern Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, contact Terra V. Winter at [email protected] or 575-521-4794.