We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa & Bob Biesterfeld and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lisa & Bob, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Well, it all started when my husband bought a Ranch in Pala, after seeing it during an Open House on a weekend Harley Ride. The road was paved all the way up, a huge bonus, and as soon as he saw the property, the view, the house, he knew he wanted it. So he bought it! Although we lived in Huntington Beach, with 2 of our youngest boys, who went to grade school and were young back then, we all liked going to the Ranch.  Many weekends we spent at the Ranch.  We soon started spending every single weekend at the Ranch! It was magical.  It had such a nice feel to being there.  We felt so lucky to have it!  Luckily we have family in Huntington Beach, so even if the kids didn’t come with us, we could still go and work on the yard, Garden, as well as shop for it, go to flea markets, decorate it, hunt down farm animals, and rescue dogs for it.  We hired a full time live-in couple to live across the street so they could feed the animals every day in exchange for rent! They could also fix things and do extra work with pay that we couldn’t or didn’t want to do.  We couldn’t get enough of it.  We loved gardening, shopping and decorating! Our “Date nights” were always going to “Home Depot” to buy things to make the Ranch even better! We planted Succulents all over the place!

We planted our Succulents all over the place! We had a neighbor in Huntington Beach who would give us cuttings, then we’d spend the weekend planting them all around the Ranch. Soon, the Ranch grew even more beautiful than it was to begin with! We would rescue animals, constantly! We had pigs, llamas -one lady had 20 to give us. We took 6. We purchased 2 dairy cows, some horses, a couple of goats. We started a chicken coop. We also rescued some Peacocks from Yuma, AZ, that were not very welcomed by their neighbors… so we built a nice big pen for them to stay safe. Eventually we decided, after my husband had so many friends come over, weekend after weekend, I suggested why don’t we rent it out, so we can go somewhere?! So we put it on VRBO, and that’s how things started. Then we were contacted about a Wedding. We decided ok! Sounds good. After seeing all of the items that had to be delivered, I had an idea that why don’t we just do Weddings? It’s more fun, since you get to meet the couple, and it’s planned way in advance, it’s an upscale, happy event, which is much more classy than just a regular party! So although my husband wasn’t totally sold, I purchased all of the tables, chairs, linens, I bought all of the mismatched china I could find, we found Vendors that had the best yelps we could find, and we had some friends who wanted to work the Weddings. So I just started up a website, and off we went! It was a little more complicated than that, but it was a very smooth transition. We could mark out the weekends we wanted to be at the Ranch, and it was actually ideal! We could help pay for some of the animal food, and the expenses of having a big piece of property, not to mention, some of the structures are quite old, and things always need repair! My husband is a born salesman, and before long we were booked every single weekend! Of course we were really cheap in the beginning. We didn’t make very much money to start with, but it was quite a learning process, and once we realized that it’s best to include even more for our couples, even if they didn’t want to do it for themselves, we knew what was actually best for them. So although we did eventually raise our prices, the quality of the Weddings went up! We built in the damages, as no one liked being charged for ruining our tablecloths with burn marks!, so we just put in a little padding for damages! Nobody wanted to pay $850 for a shuttle, but we just felt it was a must, since we included a 5 hour bar, open free bar with mixed drinks! (We did everything how WE would want it!) That’s the beauty of your own business, you get to choose how you want to do business! So that’s how it started for us, in a nutshell!

What should our readers know about your business?
Our “Business” is something we love doing and is really more of a passion. It does provides a service to those who are looking for a nice place to get Married AND spend quality time with their families, or close friends, or both! We have a perfect spot for this. I am not sure why there aren’t more places like us! It has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things we’ve ever done! Reading our Guest Book, makes us very happy, and can sometimes bring happy tears. It’s almost as if each Couple is a relative, and we let them have their Wedding here! The Thank You’s, the way they talk about how “Magical” it was, and how truly special it was for them, and that everyone loved it and had so much fun! What could be better than that! We certainly were never “Wedding People”! We just had a great spot, we were willing to share it, {yes, to cover some expenses e.g.: Hay & Animal Food,…which gets expensive with all of our animals! 4 horses, a donkey, a goat, 3 llamas, 2 cows, 1 of which is a longhorn!, chickens, peacocks, pigs, and 5 large dogs! ….some people have mortgages less than our food bill!} and we just decided to go for it! It all somewhat just fell into place… and yes, we did some research. We decided how we did not want to be. We did not want to nickel and dime everyone or play the “timeshare” deal, where you sit for a long time, to find out the price…. we wanted it easy, simple, fun. I added up how much it all cost, added some profit, and included the mandatory taxes, gratuities, etc. and that was the price! done. We just decided how we would want it to be done for ourselves. I bought all of our own furniture, so we’d have it on hand. No one would have to rent anything! I bought more dishes from antique stores, besides what my Mom had given me… I got some silverware from some estate sales…. we wanted to have choices, so we got long tables, round tables, gold chiavari chairs, white folding chairs, and eventually even wood benches. I personally like choices, so I figured the Brides would too! We’ve got an entire prop house for them to use items to decorate with! We felt if we put it together as part of a package we would get a better rate and it would be much easier throughout! The Vendors would know the Ranch, so we wouldn’t have to re-teach each Vendor each weekend we had a Wedding, where we were, how things worked, so we just got a “TEAM” so to speak and we use them for all of the Weddings! We do offer our couples 2 Caterers, and they choose which one they want, at our annual tasting… they choose which Caterer as well as their own specific menu for their Wedding. They work it out with the Caterer, but it’s all covered and part of their package. Same with the Bar. Same with the Shuttle. The hardest part for the couple is deciding who can stay at the Ranch with them. We only have beds for up to 15, but we ok up to 5 more, just because. So the rest can stay at the Pala Casino, which is 5 miles away! It’s ideal. We also have an entire Arena for parking if necessary, however most people don’t even know they can drive to the Ranch, as we want them to find it easily, and not drink and drive. We tried to take away all of the hard parts, so it can be easy on both sides! We found the best people for our Staff! We’ve been very lucky they are all so incredible and enjoy working here. The couple needs to bring up or order their own flowers, dessert, as well as their own Officiant and Photographer. We take care of all of the rest regarding the Wedding and Reception! I think the Primary thing that sets us apart from most every other venue is that they can lodge here too!!! … which makes it all the more enjoyable since they aren’t stressed about running late, – they are already here! Sometimes for a few days even! All of the furniture is here! There is no reason to stress! We even hire and include the Shuttle for their Guests, so they won’t get lost, plus it’s a super idea, because we want them to have a nice 5 hour full open bar without worry! …so it is really for safety primarily! We have learned many many many lessons along the way. We do know why other places want you in and out! We get it, but we also feel that it’s important to realize that what is really important to people is the quality of their time together. They WILL respect your home and your furnishings and antiques. They see that you are willing to trust them with it, and they in turn, make sure they leave it as they found it! We want the world to know that we exist! That there ARE truly places that care about them as a couple. They are not just a number to us. We know all of our couples, as we do all of the tours!! We are not there on Wedding day. We want them to feel the Ranch is ALL THEIRS. If we were there, that would ruin it, in our eyes. We even have a Reunion party at the end of each year in December! We invite the couples who have gotten married here. It’s Catered and we have the Bar service come up too! We play the Newlywed game, the white elephant worst wedding gift game, it’s a lot of fun and we have a great time getting to know each other even more -and especially each of the couples make new couple friends!!! I am FB friends with many of our couples and I see they become friends with our other couples, I see them have babies, buy houses, move, get promotions, etc. It’s very nice. It’s a great feeling to be part of their lives in some small way, but that they will remember always! Our reunion party is my favorite party of the entire year. I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. That newlywed game after a couple of drinks is hysterical. I couldn’t ask for a Better “profession”! We have genuinely enjoyed what we’ve been doing all these years and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, we would probably start by taking them South from us, to the Hotel Del Coronado and have some lunch, a few drinks, and ice cream! That’s always a beautiful place! Lots of photos there! We would also take them to La Jolla Cove! We love taking friends to that cave you walk a ton of steps down, then walking and seeing the seals! We love all of the Beaches along the Coast, with their quaint towns, so that would be a day! looking for stores our friends like, such as antiques and places like Boot Barn! :O) Many of our friends love to ride motorcycles, so we would take a nice ride, no doubt. I have to say in my opinion, probably the best riding around, is going out East on Highway 76, past the 15 freeway. You go through Pala, on to Pauma Valley, and out towards either Julian or Ramona, either way is Great! Just before that we see Lake Henshaw…. there is a really nice place to eat there, they also have some little cottages they rent, it’s called Lake Henshaw Resort. We also love the opened up Biker Bar, called Josie’s Hideout Saloon…. it was previously known as “the Hideout”! We loved it before they closed up for a few years, now that it’s opened up again with new owners, it’s even better! Lots of space outside to sit and mingle, they have restrooms that are nice. It’s always pretty packed, even with Covid! It’s nice just going somewhere even to stand away from each other outdoors! Out by Ramona there is a Camel Farm, and there is also a road on the way that takes you right next to a Ranch that has several Buffalo! Lots of them, Just grazing right next to the road, with a little fence…. nothing real sturdy. Another super fun day, would be taking our friends on a Weekend Day, to The Gems of Pala! You buy a bag of dirt from their tourmaline mine, and it’s really a lot of fun to sift through the dirt and find tourmaline! They have someone there to show you what to look for. You keep anything you find. They also sell rocks, and some other pretty gems in their store. Those are just some of our favorite things to do!! We also love all of downtown San Diego. It’s got a great hometown feel.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Well, we do have some of the nicest friends you could ever ask for! Our friends and family have supported ANYTHING we’ve ever done with the Ranch, and all they want to do is hang out here and spend quality time together. This is how we actually knew that the Ranch would work for Weddings. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time with their closest family and friends all at one location, and eat and watch movies together, -hey it’s even neutral territory, you aren’t imposing on either side of the family! Staying together is always fun, especially if you don’t have the work of having it at your own house! If our families and friends loved it so much, I would imagine most others would too! My husband has SO many friends that he would invite them up every single weekend. At one point, I said, maybe we should rent it out a bit, share it, and then we can travel too!!! The way everything turned out, it just all fell into place.

Website: www.thecondorsnest.com

Instagram: #thecondorsnest

Facebook: @condorsnest

Yelp: The Condor’s Nest Ranch

Image Credits
True Photography, Wedding photo

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