The mortgage-lending business has its ups and downs.

The mortgage-lending business has its ups and downs.

When it's good, it's downright lucrative. When it's bad, it's time to find something less cyclical.

It was in the lean times following the housing bust that two couples, who got to know each other through the mortgage industry, decided to open a pizza/sports bar/family dining establishment in southeast Medford.

Dan Morrison, his wife, Sandy Boughton, along with Braden and Heidi Benton opened up Morrtons in the Larson Creek Shopping Center in April, melding years of mortgage lending, pizza-making and a love for sports.

"The mortgage business definitely changes," said Boughton. "One day, you're making great money and then ..."

Morrison worked in Washington Mutual's mortgage office, and Braden Benton is a Mission Hills Mortgage alum, while Boughton continues at Mortgage Express.

"For the guys, it was time to do something else," Boughton said.

One look at the spaces formerly occupied by the Kitchen Depot and Curves got the creative juices flowing.

"When we saw the location, we decided we wanted to open a place there," Boughton said.

The Bentons have operated Great American Pizza Co., near the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland, since the 1990s. Heidi Benton is splitting her time between the old and new operations. Morrison and Braden Benton built the bar, tables and did a lot of preparatory work. Braden Benton took it a step further during the build-out time, coaching the St. Mary's boys basketball team.

The name Morrtons combines elements of the ownership group's last names.

There are 12 beers on tap, including a selection of local microbrews, complementing the pizza, calzone, salads and sandwiches served by a dozen-person staff.

The green walls are adorned with sports scenes painted by Ashland artist John Davis, and nine big screens bring in the sports fans.

"When people get off work from the medical facilities at 5 o'clock, we get pretty busy," she said. "A lot of people call it 'the friendly neighborhood bar' where someone can sit down, watch a game and relax."

The owners hoped to open their doors to mark the start of NCAA basketball's March Madness, but had to sit on their hands while a new fire sprinkler system was installed. They did, however, open in time for the Final Four.

"It was nice because so many of our contractor friends helped us get open," Boughton said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com.