'It just seemed like a no brainer': Cougar Country set to make its return with new owner

PULLMAN, Wash. - After a long six months without Coug Burgers, Cyclones and crinkle-cut fries in Pullman, Cougar Country is just about set to make its return.

Money problems shut down the iconic restaurant back in February, until Mike Wagoner stepped up to save it at the end of July. 

"It just seemed like a no brainer," said Mike, who owns Zoe Coffeehouse and Kitchen. "A lot of it, just, you know, in our hearts. This is something that we need to do to preserve the tradition of Pullman."

Mike and his wife Terry have come a long way since they first moved to Pullman.

"My wife and I moved here to go to school in 1976 and I told her 'don't get attached, because in two years, we're moving to Montana,'" he remembers.

Two years turned into 43 years.

"It's an incredible town. Incredible community," said Mike. The sense of community is very strong."

Like so many before and after them, they found this small town with its little burger joint on Grand taking up a big piece of their hearts.

"One of the things we loved about Pullman was Cougar Country," said Mike. "I mean, who doesn't love Cougar Country, right?"

Needless to say, they were struck by the news back in February that Cougar Country would be closing its doors. 

"At first, it was like disbelief. You know, it's an institution here," said Mike.

Owners were asking for $1.9 million, but Mike just closed on a deal worth half that amount. The Whitman County Assessor's Office tells our news partner 4 News Now the building and land sold for $300,000, while the buying the name and the equipment inside cost $700,000.

It's a big price tag, but for Mike, it's a small price to pay to save Cougar Country's place in Pullman. He plans to add espresso, along with his own spin on the menu, down the line.

"If I'm down at Cougar Country, people will be honking their horns as I'm washing a window or something like that. Everybody's for everybody here," he said. "My hope and my goal is to be open by the first football game. Keep your fingers crossed."