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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 19 years ago
I'm on a committee studying tourism in MC and we've been talking a lot about restaurants in MC. When i lived in Bozeman/Belgrade, we had some seriously gourmet places that were to die for. While we have places to eat in Miles City, we don't have anything really good. Now, I don't think MC is ready for a fusion Cajun/Thai tofu restaurant but what would people eat around here. I say, open a really nice, gourmet restaurant and people will come.
Gourmet pizza, maybe? I do a wonderful feta cheese and sun-dried tomato one myself.
What do folks want to see when dining out besides what we have? Not just menu but atmosphere? Any thoughts?
--Amorette
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9864) 19 years ago
Hi Amorette,
This may sound crazy. But I think a high profile retro 1950's style drive-in restuarant smack dab in the midst of things on Haynes Avenue would do well.

People traveling through would get a kick out of it, and I think, would be more inclined to stop there for a burger instead of McDonalds, Hardee's, etc. (since they are common). And if they made a good burger, everyone else would like it too.

My 2 cents worth.

Regards, Larry
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 19 years ago
Actually, I'm thinking of something downtown, away from the clutter of Haynes, in one of the historic buildings. Burger Bob's in Bozeman is in one of those buildings and does great burgers. Second floor, maybe, with a view and something different.
--Amorette
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 19 years ago
I have often thought that a Main Street restaurant that offers diners a view of the street would be fun. A corner location with large windows and seating right next to the windows so diners can watch the activity on the street. I suppose those notoriously cold winters make large windows economically unviable. Just like the large windows that used to offer such a grand view from the old Airport Inn building -- I suspect that when the A.I. was rebuilt the owners had lowering their heating bills on their minds as much as preserving the view.

Is it possible to operate a successful restaurant in eastern Montana that doesn't have "Casino" somewhere in the name? That doesn't have electronic Keno and Poker machines continuously going "doot, doot, doot" as you try to enjoy your meal?

Another thing that challenges restaurants in Montana is the state's antiquated liquor laws. Many restaurants rely upon liquor sales to supplement their food sales. But in Montana, liquor licenses are limited and can be prohibitively expensive to obtain. But, the current holders of liquor licenses are not eager to see the laws changed for fear they will lose much of what they have invested in their license.

If I were to speculate on what makes a restaurant successful in Miles City:

* Family friendly.
* Relatively inexpensive menu.
* Ability to accomodate large groups.
* Menu that isn't too far out -- at least offers some familiar basics.

I wonder if a more formal sit-down Mexican restaurant might be able to make it in Miles City? Some altervative to the Taco John's fast food option.

And possibly a good burger place (like Burger Bob's) could do well. A place for people to have a quick bite to eat before heading to a movie or going out for a few drinks afterward. But I would like to see a place that has a little bit of a classy atmosphere and not the family diner (ala 4B's, 600 Cafe) motif.

How about the Judge's Chambers in Broadus? Anyone try that place out? It was for sale a while back... not sure if it sold... is it still in business? I haven't had the chance to try it but I think it offered a little more of a gourmet dining experience. Would something like that survive in Miles City?

- Dave
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 19 years ago
The 519 Club has the view and the room but the menu is well, the same as every place else. Sure, every menu in MT has to have some basic stuff but I would so love to see something non-basic available in MC. A REAL Mexican restaurant (ooo, there used to be one in Manhattan that did chile rellenos to die for) or any ethnic restaurant that went beyond the same ol' stuff!
We do have a pretty good Chinese place and I hit the New Hunan regularly and lots of folks do good steaks and the Stagecoach gets some non-basic stuff I enjoy (try the tequila lime chicken on corn chip strips ) but, while the atmosphere there is fun, I would like to see something a tad more, dare I say it, upscale. I mean, I like the Cellar's Indian tacos but. . .
I hate poker machines! I don't mind a bar having them but please, keep them AWAY from the restaurant. And NO tvs, either. If I wanted to watch TV, I'd stay home!

--Amorette
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 19 years ago
Yep, I agree with you, I don't care to listen to poker machines or the TV when I'm enjoying a nice dinner out. I don't consider myself anti-gambling but I am disappointed by what the gambling industry has done to the appearance of Montana cities. In my opinion, a glitzy casino is not something to be proud of. But I fear that the economic reality is that many restaurants opt to be a casino first and a restaurant second. For goodness sake, when "Gallagher's **>>Family<<** Restaurant" opts to place a casino prominently at the front of the building and effectively change their name to "Ruby's Casino" that's gotta tell you something. I fear that people have the opinion that they don't want to go someplace if it doesn't offer gambling or they think that casinos offer "cheap" food so they want to eat at casinos.

When I was in Miles City over Christmas I stopped at the Stagecoach on Christmas Day. Their restaurant and their lounge were closed but their "casino" was open. I didn't want to gamble but I wanted to have a cold beer. Inside I was informed that they couldn't (wouldn't?) sell me a beer. They would *give* me a beer only if I was playing the poker or keno machines. I left, but I question if such a policy isn't a violation of Montana's liquor or gambling laws.

- Dave
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+9864) 19 years ago
Personally, I find the casinos tacky and think they should be considered an embarassment to the state. I don't have a problem with poker and keno machines in bars, and if asked, would support them in that venue, but it is a bit much to see what were once seemingly fine resturants across the state now converted into cheezy eyesores offering $2.95 chicken strip meals and an opportunity to lose some money.
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Posted by Donald Richard (+23) 19 years ago
A dream resturant is not really what I am looking for. But a place where one could sit and eat with friends or family and not have to yell over the noise of the crowd, the music or the poker machines. That would be number one. Number two would be a reasonably priced menu. I find that eating places have a book for a menu when a simple five to ten entree menu would be just fine. Priced to meet the budget. It looks to me like they charge a big price and then try to make the plate look so full you can't eat it all so you think you are getting your money's worth. To make ends meet you would need enough seating that a mid priced menu would pay the bills. It becomes a real financial juggling match to make things go. You call it gourmet and you can charge more. To make sure you do not getting boring you could have a different special each night. And don't make it the same special each night of the week. You become boring again. More importantly I think the food needs to be better quality to start with. Instead of taking choice get the next step up. I know the cattle in anaconda are fed the same as those in miles city. The meat I eat here is firm and tasteless. The meat I eat in anaconda was juicy, tender and had a really distinctive taste.
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Posted by Kim Smarsh (+114) 19 years ago
I think a gourmet restaraunt will do very well in Miles City. I am in a gourmet cooking group and we love trying new foods from different countries, regions, etc. We often travel to Billings and beyond just to eat good food: Enzo's, The Beanery, Sartori's (sadly closed), The Montana Brewing Company, Morgan's Market, McCormick Cafe, The Athenian, John Bozemans Bistro, The Gallatin Gateway Inn, The Judges Chambers,etc. I am willing to pay for great food in a NON-SMOKING atmosphere. I don't think you need a large menu as long as that menu changes seasonally to take advantage of the freshest fruits and vegetables, or offers changing specials. We don't need another steak and burger joint. Families are great but sometimes it is nice to be able to eat in a quiet atmosphere where the food is a little more sophisticated.
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Posted by Terri Newby (+10) 19 years ago
Amorette,
What a timely topic! A group of three of us drove to Billings last weekend, just to eat. That may sound frivolous to some, but we truly enjoy an excellent meal, with more variety in the menu. While most of Miles City's restaurants provide quality meals in a nice family atmosphere, often times we prefer more diversity in the menu. I love burgers and steaks as much as the next Montanan, but there are soooo many more choices that feed the soul as well as the body.

We have often talked of opening a small intimate restaurant in a house, similar to The Judges Chambers in Broadus. While their menu is not large and changes seasonally, they take advantage of the freshest ingredients and seasonal produce as well as local game. I understand the local eateries need to gear their menus to please as many palettes as possible. But I also believe there is a large group of people with culinary needs that are not being met.
I am not the only gourmet "want-to-be" out there. While on our regular food roadtrips, we always come across others on the same search.
The truth is out there!
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 19 years ago
Kim's suggestions sound great to me. When does the place open? : ) Seriously, I would love to see a place like this on Main Street in Miles City.

When I point out things like "family friendly" and "relatively inexpensive" I'm definitely missing the point of a "dream restaurant". That's more my theory of what might make a restaurant successful.

I've heard that both the Miles City Club and the Town and Country Club have struggled with keeping their kitchen staff. Also I heard there was a big shakeup at the Olive Hotel Dining Room and that they pretty much had to get all new staff. I think it's expensive to maintain a well-trained staff (especially on the higher end of the dining scale) and running a restaurant is very hard work.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that someday a dream restaurant will open in Miles City and it will be a smashing success. : )

- Dave

BTW, Kim, you went to the Judges Chambers in Broadus? How was it? Anyone know if the place is still for sale? Still open? Does the chef want to move to Miles City? : )
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Posted by Kim Smarsh (+114) 19 years ago
I've been to the Judges Chambers many times. I travel to Broadus monthly on business and always enjoy having lunch there. However, they are now closed at lunch time (at least they have been my last several visits), and I don't know about dinner time. The menu changes seasonally and has always had a nice variety. Stuart, the first chef, left to work at Sartori's in Billings, and I don't know what has happened to him since then. I don't know if the place is still for sale or not. There are no for sale signs.

[This message has been edited by Kim Smarsh (edited 3/5/2001).]
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 19 years ago
I was saddened to see Sartori's close but not surprised. It was too big and ambitious. I'm thinking something smaller. More John Bozeman's Bistro than Gallatin Gateway. At least to start.
Yeah, finding good staff is hard. My husband is a chef by hobby. People are always asking him why don't we open a restaurant. Well, he can cook but we know nothing else about running one and it does take savvy as well as cooking!
Still, if we did, it would be in an old house (we have vague dreams of using our house as either a bed and breakfast or a restaurant but are still in the unfinished stage and will be for years) have a menu that changes regularly (ever eat at KPaul's in New Orleans? menu there changes daily depending on what is available. The staff handwrites the menu before opening.) and serves stuff like salmon in huckleberry glaze or pesto chicken in phyllo dough--both of which my husband has made for dinner in the last few weeks. He makes a great pesto from our own basil. I can do some fabulous desserts.
My dream would be a restaurant called "Little Bear's" in the basement of the Ursuline convent but you can't serve wine so that would be a problem.
Still, I KNOW we could up the quality around here. I mean--western MT is filling up and getting too pricy. Folks will start moving our way. If you sell gourmet in Belgrade and Red Lodge, you can sell it here!
And keep the poker and keno machines in a separate room!
--Amorette
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Posted by Kim Smarsh (+114) 19 years ago
Both the salmon in huckleberry glaze and the chicken in phyllo dough sound fabulous. I would love to see more fish and seafood selections. Preparation is so important. Do you have to serve alcohol? I know it's nice to have a glass of wine with dinner. Maybe you could do something like the Judges Chambers did. They didn't have a liquor license but you could bring your own wine and they would chill, uncork and serve it for you. Maybe the convent would allow that. It's worth a shot. The important thing now is to keep the idea alive and moving forward.
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Posted by Bart Freese (+935) 19 years ago
I have to admit, when it comes to food I'm pretty easy to please -- especially if someone else is picking up the bill. I enjoy eating at a number of places here in town. I don't want to list names for fear of missing some and offending others. As for a dream restaurant -- Roman style where we lie around on pillows being fed by hand, while cooled with huge fans waved by well paid (not slaves) workers in the summer time. In all seriousness, if a gourmet restara (oh man, spell checker Larry) restaurant did open, would we flock to it for awhile, only to forget about it later on? I suppose if the food was truly good.

I am not the person to be giving advice since I like Mac and Cheese and to make it exciting I put in salsa.

[This message has been edited by Bart Freese (edited 3/11/2001).]
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Posted by Rene' Mowry (+12) 19 years ago
Miles City has had some very good restaurants. Unfortunately, many have closed for various reassons. In part, I think that any new restaurant that opens is going to get a lof of opposition from the current places. Competition is a good thing, unless it is YOUR competition!

I think the key is to get excellent staff who knows how to run a restaurant, and pay them well. The "Dream" place shouldn't allow teenagers to run it -- their motivation doesn't go past their next paycheck.

A hard-working family-owned and run "Dream" could succeed. Look at the Airport Inn and 600 Cafe and Hole in the Wall as examples.

Pay attention to the demographics, too. Does MC really need another burger place aimed toward the high school group? Check out the Baby-Boomers (of which I am one). The previous suggestion of a '50's place with olden goldies playing seems like fun to me.

I agree with the anti-Casino people. There's a place for everything, and keno machines do not need to be the first thing you see when you go out to eat.

Good luck on your "Dream" restaurant! Maybe it'll be open and doing well if/when I ever go back to MC to visit.

-- Rene' Mowry
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Posted by jackie stoeckel (+212) 19 years ago
my two cents worth. i really miss good italian and authentic mexican food. lived in colorado for awhile and the mexican food restaurants were reasonably priced and run efficiently at what seemed a low overhead. family run businesses. i enjoy the quaint atmosphere of guadalajara's in billings. i unfortunately eat out way too much. but if i am going to eat out i would like some variety. those are the two cuisines that i miss.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 19 years ago
Another place I'd like to see would be like Monkey Don's Rib Joint in Belgrade. Nothing but ribs or barbecued chicken. Beef or Pork. Key Lime pie for dessert. Heart attack heaven.
Surely that would fly here?
--Amorette
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Posted by Kim Smarsh (+114) 19 years ago
I went to the Cattle-ac on Sunday night and was surprised to find that the menu was mostly Mexican (from the name 'Cattle', I expected burgers and steaks, which they do have). The food was passable but the smoke filling the place left me no desire to return in the near future.
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Posted by Peg St. John (+12) 18 years ago
Hi, I'm from Massachusetts and I have been planning a trip to Miles City. I had spoken to Mrs. Kronnerberg at the library who told me about the Bucking Horse Auction and even sent me some news clipping about it. It sounds exciting for a person from the East. When I mention Montana to my friends as a place to vacation they say "Why Montana?" and "What's there - nothing." I have proceded to tell them about the horse auction, Custer's battlefield, ice caves, Range museum etc. When they think Montana they think Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, fishing hunting.
What am I looking forward to seeing? The Horse Auction, the battlefield, Ranchers at work, a restaurant that sells good steaks, (should be able to get a good steak in a state that sells beef), a bar & grill with live country music and the usual small city stores and the vistas, thoses acres and acres of praire. It depends on what you're looking for. I've been to New York City. There is plenty to do but it short on countyside beauty. So - tell me what do you recommend for sites for me to see.

Peg St. John
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Posted by Bart Freese (+935) 18 years ago
What time period are you going to be visiting? Season?
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Posted by Peg St. John (+12) 18 years ago
We will be visiting in May. We are going to attend the Bucking Horse Sale and meet up with Jeanne Spannagel who is going to show us some of the ranch sites and scenery. We will be staying for 11 days.

Peg
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 18 years ago
Sounds like fun. May can be a wonderful time of the year to visit Miles City. It's usually nice and green from the spring rains and it's starting to warm up but it isn't as hot as July and August can be.

If you venture over to see Custer Battlefield you may want to visit Pompey's Pillar (along I-94 about 30 miles east of Billings). You can see where William Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition) carved his name in the sandstone pillar along the Yellowstone River... I believe that was in 1806.

In Miles City you might want to check out the Custer County Art Museum. They have a fascinating gallery in the old water treatment plant.

On a nice afternoon you might consider packing a picnic lunch and heading out to Woodruff Park which is about 10 miles east of Miles City on U.S. Hwy 12. It's a nice picnic area in the Pine Hills.

One of my favorite places to eat when I'm in Miles City is the Airport Inn. It's located on North 7th Street (Montana Hwy 59) on the north side of Miles City -- just across the Yellowstone River and up the hill a little ways. It's not fancy but I do enjoy their pizza, finger steaks, and "ground rounds" (hamburgers). And you get a nice view of the town and the Yellowstone valley while you eat.

If you plan on staying in a motel in Miles City during the Bucking Horse Sale, I recommend that you make a reservation immediately.

Have fun!

- Dave
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
Bucking Horse Sale visits do require hotel reservations EARLY. Like now. Seriously. Don't wait.

Don't forget the Range Riders Museum, a must see, and some of the old bars downtown are worth a visit, even if you are temperance minded, because of the Victorian buildings.

Miles City has three registered historic districts plus several individual buildings. When you get to town, stop at my office at 907 B Main, if you're interested, and I can arrange some tours of some of the buildings. There are some fabulous 1880s-1920s houses in town, many in excellent condition.

The city parks--Riverside and Wibaux--are great for picnics, weather permitting. Rock hounds and birders have lots of favorite places around here, too, if you are into that.

Yeah, there are a few places to go 'round here. And the view from the Airport Inn at night is great!

--Amorette
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
The news on the "new" Cattle-Ac (in the former Miles City club building next to the old NP depot) is that the "casino" will be separate from the main dining room and the bar!!!! If this is true, you can eat and drink in peace and quiet. Huzzah. No opening date set yet but progress is going on.

-Amorette
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Posted by Peg St. John (+12) 18 years ago
The hotels were booked. We're on a waiting list but I did find one in Forsyth and booked it. We will cancel if we get into one in Miles City. What are finger steaks?

[This message has been edited by Peg St. John (edited 11/9/2001).]

[This message has been edited by Peg St. John (edited 11/9/2001).]
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 18 years ago
Yes, I was afraid that might be the case with the hotels. I think they are booked a year in advance for the Bucking Horse Sale.

Finger steaks are probably a uniquely Airport Inn phenomenon. I suppose you could say they are like chicken strips only they are made with strips of beef steak. Battered, fried, and served with a dipping sauce. Your dietician would not approve. As far as I know the Airport Inn makes them "from scratch" just as they grind their own hamburger for their "ground rounds".

If you're looking for a gourmet dining experience, the Airport Inn is not the place to go. It's just a unique, locally owned, family-friendly burger and pizza joint with a hilltop view of Miles City.

- Dave
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Posted by Linda Stallard Santoro (+19) 18 years ago
I would like to see something like the old Crossroads Inn come back in to existance. That was the "dress up
and use company manners" place that a lot of us grew up with. Learned to eat out in public, dance and
socialize.
I always thought one of the out of business places downtown would make a wonderful window on the
world for either a nice restaurant or a senior citizen activity center. Whenever you enter a restaurant
in town, everyone turns to see who it is and if they know them. We used to know almost everyone
but that is not so true anymore.
Also, many of our young people have not had th opportunity to dress up and go out. Ranch families
coming to town for a few days used to bring their best bibs and tuckers to go to the Crossroads
at least once. Even going downtown, they would try to look clean and well dressed. I am sorry to
say that the casual lifestyle has slipped into almost every phase of life.
I, too, think that the people in eastern Montana are a bit more sophisticated and would welcome some
upscale, gourmet restaurants.
Linda Stallard Santoro
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
By the way, Stallard as in Berl and the bookkeepers?
--Amorette
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Posted by Linda Stallard Santoro (+19) 18 years ago
Hi, Amorette
Yes, Stallard as in bookkeeper. Berl was my dad who
passed away in '96.
Sorry that I did not answer your post sooner. Got
sidetracked by life and the holidays.
A restaurant of some kind looking out on the park
would be great. Or overlooking the river up or down
stream.
I really miss having a nice place to eat when I
go to Miles. And some interesting food. How about
that couple in Coalstrip that do the mexican food.
They might know someone who would be interested in
moving north. Taco John might object, though! <g>
Linda
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Posted by DJ (+5) 18 years ago
Hello, I am moving to MC in about a month and I must admit the eating establishments I have experienced have been somewhat disappointing. My wife and I tried the cattle-ac (casino) the food was alright, but I nearly gagged to use the cigarette smoke-filled restroom, and our clothes reeked of smoke when we left. On our next trip to MC we tried, the stagecoach (casino), sat in the non-smoking section, and yet some not-so-polite person lit up a smoke next to I us... I don't want to sound like a whiner, but I do not enjoy smoke and casino noise when I dine. What can I do? There must be a place in Custer county to eat a half-descent meal and not inhale others' cigarette smoke, please tell me there is.. On the plus side, ya'll are talking about the dining issue, and a new book store just opened, so I am very hopefull.
see you later
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
Nope, there is no place in Miles City that is completely non-smoking. This is still "Marlboro Man" country and there aren't enough non-smokers for restaurants to refuse to accomodate smokers. And those miserable poker machines usually underwrite the restaurants. That's why you never see a "stand alone" restaurant. They need the bar/casino money to make a profit.

Could be worse. In both the Stagecoach and the Cattle-Ac--and Cellar, when the back room is open, you can get away from the beeping of those $#@ machines. Some places they are right next to the dining area.

Sigh. Maybe some day, some of the fine dining available in western MT will drift our way.

--Amorette
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Posted by Klista Roberts (+8) 18 years ago
Just a few years ago there was a restaurant that was 100% non-smoking that had no machines. Varsity Sports Bar and Grill. I worked there, and that is where I met my now husband. It was a wonderful place, and up until the last few months, there were no poker machines, etc. but then we tried them, although hardly anyone used them. They were in a small room to the back of the bar area. Varsity was sold to Louie in July or August of '99, Louie's restaruant emerged, which is now Jewel's. I miss those Varsity days......
My husband got his real start in the restaurant business there, and right after we got married in July of '99, we moved to Punxsutawney, PA where he attended culinary school. Now we are in Colorado Springs CO where he is the demi-chef in the busiest restaurant in the Broadmoor (a resort) He has wanted to open something in Miles City (both our families are still there) but realizes that for the most part, new restaraunts don't survive. He doesn't want to do the same old thing, i.e. burgers and steaks...
He can do steaks excellent, and would, but wishes that people would open up to something different. Something that would become established, and possibly bring out-of-town business also. His latest idea was to buy the Osco building, split it into two levels, and make a restaraunt in the lower half, and do private parties upstairs, which would be great during the 4C tournaments.
I think the only way something new would work was if the residents in Miles City gave it a chance.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
I would love to see a restaurant serving something besides steaks. Cattle-Ac does that to some extent. They have some Cajun, some Mexican, some Italian.

The Osco building, however, was sold to Red Rock Sporting Goods. As historic preservation officer, I'd like to see someone take advantage of the wonderful second floors (or even third!) of some of the old Main St. buildings. I'd love to restore the Olive, put in a hot tub in the center garden (which also needs restoration) and then fix up the old Milligan into a classy Western hotel.

And I want a pony, and my two front teeth and. . .

I think, in time, as western MT fills up and gets too pricy and Billings is, well, Billings, we will one day get some of those restaurants.

Unfortunately, the secret to making a small fortune in the restaurant business is to start with a large fortune. It's why my husband the chef works as the Star photographer.

--Amorette
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Posted by Tana Whicker (+19) 18 years ago
If someone has the guts to open a nonsmoking restaurant, I'll give them all the business I can! (And with 6, soon to be 7, people in our family, that's no small potatoes!)

I have been giving some serious thought to opening a Payless Shoes franchise in Miles City. I realize this is the Food and Dining forum, but given the current topic, I figured I'd see if anyone has any thoughts on this.

Tana Whicker
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Posted by Chad (+1761) 18 years ago
Ready for a novel.......

I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula in California (yes, I'm one of those #&%@ Californians, but I was born in North Dakota- wait, is that worse?); anyway, the Peninsula has some of the finest dining and eating establishments in the world- literally. I REALLY miss the diversity and quality of the fare available there. I worked in some of the restaurants before continuing with college and moving to Montana; made it up to chef at a small place on the wharf.

I now live in the land of meat and potatoes- as do the rest of you. Many of my local friends and family get upset stomachs from the local taco shop, having grown up on bland, prairie diets. Tacos and spaghetti are about their limit. But not mine! I absolutely love a well made meal, or a good sandwich on fresh sourdough, a fine desert that didn't come from a box. 99% of what is served in Miles City comes from a box or a bag pulled from a corporate semi-trailer or the regional food service company (FSA, SER, etc.) What's lacking....

Money for one. Much of the community won't spend much on a meal because they've found (locally) that high cost doesn't mean high taste/quality (ever eat one of those rubbery frozen lobsters here?). Acquiring a palete for good food does not happen over night. It's also hard to actually taste your food when the room is clouded with cigarette smoke. Like a good bottle of wine, you learn to taste the subtleties of a well seasoned filet; to appreciate the delicacies of a well made pastry; the flavor of a fruit or vegetable that ripened on the tree/bush/vine and has not been boiled to death with other products to the point of being a flavorless bit of mush.

I appreciate a well made donut, a good hamburger or steak, and a cheap beer, but I miss freshness and well thought out and prepared foods.

We get together occasionally with several of our friends and have international meal nights. Each attendee brings something from Latin America, Asia, the Mid-East- whatever region of the world we're in the mood for. It's not a huge ordeal because everyone is contributing to the table. It's fun and good.

What does Miles City need???

1. A dedicated cook that has been trained and is willing to work lousy hours for little or nothing is the first step.

2. A non-smoking restaurant that serves food and beverages- not a gaming hall or a bar. It should have a comfortable feel and preferably an enjoyable or entertaining view. Most of the local establishments seriously lack character and atmosphere; they look as tastless as their food.

3. A commitment to actually prepare food- not pull it from a bag, box or container. The menu should be composed of good recipes that are within the capabilities of the chef. It could include various "ethnic" items or be some of that fine "nouveau cuisine" that has become so popular.

4. Changing the menu on a daily or weekly basis would be great in addition to some regular items. This can be costly, but it can also guarantee repeat customers seeking something new; it also takes advantage of things that are available seasonally (ever try to get a decent artichoke or fresh Pacific salmon in December?). Additionally, the prices should be fair, I don't mean affordable or cheap. I'll pay for a good filet mignon, but if it's lousy I'm going to let everyone know about my dissatisfaction.

5. Good Service. I can't begin to say how much lousy service is available here. Tables, floors, counters, and all dinner and glassware should be spotless. Linens should be clean and crisp- not soiled and worn out. Wait staff needs training and appreciation from their employers. And cutomers- don't be so darn tight with tips; if you get good service give them a decent tip because they're not getting rich waiting tables!

6. An educated public that appreciates truly good food and is willing to pay for it. Enjoy the experience of being pampered and served; of having a meal prepared for you; be willing to experiment and try something new, wierd or bizarre (not Rocky Mountain oyters!). Hopefully, the chef has done his/her homework and knows what they're doing. A good chef becomes known and relates with his/her cutomers and reacts to thier input.

That's a beginning. It's far deeper than that, but this covers my basic instincts. Sadly, quality restaurants are more likely to succeed where there's more money and talent available.
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Posted by pat sweeney (+5) 18 years ago
Hey Chad,
[Excerpt Deleted]. Why did you move to Miles City? Zero crime rate, clean air, good schools, leave the doors unlocked at night, talk to your neighbors, no taxes, no traffic congestion, no road rage... must I keep going? You moved to a smal town to get away from everything that sucked in the places you mentioned... ie: Want to make a million dollars to open a happen restaurant? Buy a box of Cheerios and take it to North Dakota and sell it as doughnut seeds... Think of the logistics to supply fresh seafood to an inland market 900 miles from the nearest sea port. Maybe they should open a fisherman's market with fresh flown in daily specials. After the spoiled throw aways, could you imagine what 4 fillets of sea bass would cost? $500.00 per pound? Unless you have millions, which you do not, fly to anywhere once a week for a gastrointestinal delight.

I have lived in Chicago, Los Angles, Phoenix and San Diego. The "I am Special Attitude" is not about the area, it's about the person who whined in every other place they habitated.

Pat in Chicago, Los Angles, Denver, San Diego, Miles City, Denver, Mobile, Naples and Billings.

[This message has been edited by Larry Antram (edited 6/15/2002).]
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Posted by Chad (+1761) 18 years ago
Well Pat let me tell you...

Broadus Montana has a very fine restaurant such as those I miss. Broadus is smaller than Miles City, further off the beaten path, etc. The place is called The Judges Chambers. It's locally owned and operated from Broadus. The Chefs (a married couple) are well trained; serve fresh sea bass in season; make exquisite desserts and breads; have a simple, yet diverse menu; etc. I need not go on.

It has nothing to do with proximity to Chicago, San Francisco, New York or New Orleans. The Judges Chambers owners have told me they do well and enjoy where they're at. I still believe Miles City would support a quality restaurant, but there is nobody here with proper cooking and management experience. The opportunity is here. Good food does not mean exotic food. It means well made/prepared; presented nicely; served graciously in a setting with ambience and character (getting rid of smoke would help, too). It's not a chi-chi place or attitude; I don't miss that. I miss experience, caring and compassion for a fine experience.

Enough said.
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+10499) 18 years ago
There is a restaurant in Grand Forks, N.D.--another bustling metropolis that ranks right up there for population and location with Miles City--that gets a mention in this month's Bon Appetit. And a restaurant in Whitefish, MT.

So. . .yeah, a good restaurant could be a success here but finding the right executive chef would be the tricky bit and the restaurant business is very, very hard. The joke is "How do you make a small fortune in the restaurant business? Start with a large fortune."

I think Miles City could support a good Italian restaurant, for instance. Just have to find someone with the bucks and the know-how.

As for supplies, there are things called "airplanes" that land in Miles City regularly. Wonderful devices. Let you get fresh seafood all the time.

--Amorette
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Posted by David Schott (+15319) 18 years ago
I'd like to see someone convert the old Northern Pacific Railway depot into a good Italian restaurant.

- Dave
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Posted by li cran (+31) 17 years ago
Love to open a nice Italian restaurant, after living 20 yrs. in Italy and getting all those nice, 'original' Mediterranean family recipes from neighbours and friends made over here.
Big problem is bucks and a minimum guarantee of being able to keep it going after the novelty wore off. (Competitive traditionalism could cut deep).
Was raised in MC through the 60's and 70's, and have no idea how it is now, although I seem to note a general downgrade of older buildings and things that as a child I saw as 'eternal' in the business world..So sad, in a way, but dynamic in another.
Oh, well.
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Posted by Brandon (+18) 17 years ago
Just removed from high school, I have a strong opinion on a restaurant. Speaking for the younger generation, I think an Italian restaurant would work really well in Miles City. I know a couple friends and I on more than one occasion talked about going to lunch or dinner for a Formal or Prom at an Italian restaurant.
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Posted by Sara (+3) 17 years ago
Hello.
I think that we could take the idea that Broadus has and have gourmet dining at affordable prices. I know that they grow most of their herbs and some of their vegetables as well. They also buy their beef locally and pay locals for their fish etc.. I don't know if any of you have enjoyed a meal at the Judge's Chambers, but it is to die for!! They only off maybe 8-10 meals, 1-3 appetizers, and 5 or 6 desserts then that menu is rotated with the week or seasons. It is a very popular place and I think would get a great deal of business in Miles City if we were to incorporate something of the same idea.
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Posted by tracy pask (+83) 17 years ago
This is a great topic, I live in Arizona now were you can get anything you want to eat. My love is pasta. I think it would be great to be able to go get pasta alfredo, baked lazagna, or anything you want instead of going to Billings to eat at Olive Garden. I realized how sheltered my eating was when I moved down here. Except, I do have to say I really miss being able to get prime rib. I mean you can get it here but you pay triple than what it cost in Miles City. Miles City needs a good restauraunt. I used to love Dos Machos, Little Big Men, and Big Al's I loved too. We need variety in Miles City, not always the safe menu that most everyone has there. I do agree the prices need to be decent. You can spend $50.00 on a family of three here in Arizona, but in Miles City the price of living is cheaper and so the salaries aren't as high. What someone should do is study restaurants around the USA, see what works, and see what would be most affordable in Miles City. It's also about the area your in too, not to many people would go for vegitarian food, that wouldn't work in Miles City, we like meat, we have cattle, we have cowboy's. But now pasta or mexican would work good. Anyway's that's my thought on the subject....
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Posted by Antonia Klein (+40) 17 years ago
A variety of choices in edible fare is something Miles City seriously lacks. There are only a couple of places I am even remotely interested in obtaining sustenance since my diet is NOT meat and potatoes. I am sure there are others in Miles City besides myself who would appreciate a variety of food including something for those of us who lean towards vegetarianism, oh lord, did I really say that in cattle country? hehe
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Posted by Katie M. Lien (+2) 17 years ago
I came across the 'Dream Restaraunt' topic while I was just looking around finding out what all was happening in my home town of Miles City. I am currently living in Missoula and, needless to say, enjoy dining at many of the restaraunts in Miles City when I get back to visit... However, after eating at Finnigan's here in Missoula, I would love to see a place like that in Miles City. It has gotten away from the gambling machines and television sets and is just a nice quiet place to be able to enjoy your meal. Although it's not gourmet and has many of the regular menu items, it does have a few good varieties. I think in my entire lifetime of living in Montana, it is the first place where I've actually been seated next to a table of people who COMPLAINED(of all things) about getting TOO MUCH! I agree with the waiter's comment on this.."at least you get your money's worth". It's reasonably priced and has become a favorite of my husband and I. I think if there were a place in Miles City that you could actually say you got your money's worth, without having to feel like it cost you an arm and a leg, it would do very well.
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Posted by tracy pask (+83) 17 years ago
Ok Antonia Klein, I am just saying that most of the men are meat and potatoes kind of guys. I find that there is so much health food here in Arizona though that I crave meat and potatoes. I usually have a salad or soup at lunch time. But sometimes I really miss meat. You are right they do need items on the menu that have vegitarian items. But hey, you could order a pizza from pizza hut and get the vegitarian pizza, hahaha. There has been resteraunts throughout Montana that have been on the Best Of on the food network, I would like to see Miles City have a place that everyone hear's about and want's to come to when they come to Miles City. Kind of like the Red Rock. Well have a great day.
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Posted by saltie girl (+12) 16 years ago
the kind of restaurant you're describing is already in miles city...Club 519's restaurant offers a 3rd story view overlooking main street & good food for family dining.(garth's prime rib draws people from near and far!)
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Posted by KELLY BABCOCK (+194) 16 years ago
Hi Kim,

I have tried everything humanly possible, to reply to your very generous offer, to help me, off-line.

Everytime, I try to send a mail to you, it is returned, because your address had "fatal errors,", or the "mail box is unavailable.

I would very much like to talk to you. Would you contact me again, with the correct address?

Thank you, very much,
Nathan Kelly Babcock
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