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How we met: Love at first fib

By Nora Tarte

A sense of humor wins sorority girl’s heart in the end

Greg and Mimi Butler are best known as the owners of Buenos Grill in west Reno, which they’ve run together since 1999. But more than a decade before that chapter of their lives, Greg and Mimi were just two students at University of Nevada, Reno, fated to meet at a fraternity party, of all places.

“I remember feeling attracted to Greg on the first night we met,” Mimi says. “It was like that comfortable feeling you get around someone you have known and loved for a long time.” 

However, their relationship didn’t start out traditionally—you could even say it was based on a lie, though a mild one meant to make Mimi laugh. You see, around the same time Greg and Mimi met, a student had fallen down the elevator shaft (and survived) at Nye Hall. Greg, arm in a sling from a skiing accident, attempted to convince Mimi he was that student. 

Turns out Greg isn’t the best at make believe. “I knew he was kidding about his injury since his story changed over the course of the evening,” Mimi recalls.

Mimi and Greg Butler in the early days of their relationship.
Mimi and Greg Butler in the early days of their relationship. Provided by Mimi Butler

Regardless, Mimi continued to let Greg pretend as she helped him make s’mores in the fraternity fireplace, and the night eventually led to a face-off over the foosball table and a bet that Greg could beat Mimi, even with one hand. The loser would have to buy the winner ice cream. 

“I won,” Greg says.

The two, however, didn’t end up exchanging phone numbers and so it took months of running into each other on campus—a feat Greg was all but making happen by “accidentally” bumping into her time and time again—before that date actually happened. And Mimi held true to her word, paying for Greg’s ice cream.

Not long after, Mimi invited Greg to a sorority dance at a French restaurant, ironically named Mimi’s Hideaway (with no relation to Mimi or the current Mimi’s Restaurant in town). 

“I think I started feeling this was serious shortly after our first real date,” Greg remembers. “By our first date we had already started building a foundation.”

On April 15, 1986—three years to the day of that first date—Greg took Mimi out to a French restaurant in Lake Tahoe called Le Petit Pier where he popped the question. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mimi and Greg Butler's son, Cole, on the day Buenos Grill opened and in 2021.
Mimi and Greg Butler’s son, Cole, on the day Buenos Grill opened and in 2021. Image: Provided by Mimi Butler

When Mimi and Greg met, Greg was already working at the Chart House in Stateline as a dishwasher. Over the course of their courtship, he moved up the ranks and built a successful career operating restaurants in California and Oregon. When the couple was ready to move back to Reno, with their two-year-old in tow, they decided to go it on their own. 

With Greg’s knowledge of cooking, love of Mexican food and affinity for running restaurants and Mimi’s sales acumen (her previous career was in retail cosmetic and fragrance sales), it’s no surprise Buenos Grill has been a Reno staple for more than 20 years. The couple celebrated the restaurant’s 22nd anniversary on April 19. 

As for the key to their success in love, that recipe is harder to crack. 

Greg says, “Remember what you love about each other and make time to share that love.” 

“Spend time together doing things you enjoy,” Mimi echoes. “Be a good listener, adaptable to change and loving.”

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