Curtis Denniston - working undercover, keeps an eye on Quality Control
"A Brief History of the Beartooth Cafe"
by George McCormick
(a yearly employee since 1996)
Opening in 1979 in a one-room cabin, serving mostly hotdogs and hamburgers, the Beartooth Café has remained a constant in Cooke City for twenty-five years. Through the fires of ‘88 (the two trees anchoring the deck in front of the restaurant were supposed to be cut during the blaze-many in Cooke City were-but at the insistence of then owners Gary Brown and Kelly Blair they remain today) and the changing face of Yellowstone tourism, the Beartoooth Café has evolved to serve finer food while maintaining its porch-friendly and casual atmosphere.
|In the August issue of The Beartooth Times reviewer George McCormick writes, "while many other restaurants in Cooke City have closed, changed ownership, went bad, or tried to reinvent themselves so many times that people lost interest...the Beartooth Café has persevered."|
|The structure of the restaurant, a large one-room log cabin, was built in the mid-forties. It served as the Home Comfort Café for a number of years before becoming several things- a lumber storage facility, then a lodge for an alpine skiing school-until it became, in 1979, the Beartooth Café. Blair and Brown’s idea was a touch of class within the rustic context of the Soda Butte Valley. Blues, jazz and early country continue to play through the speakers on the porch where views of Ram’s Pasture, Index and Republic peaks, and Woody Ridge still go unimpeded.|
|The remnants of the fires of ‘88, which came within two hundred yards of the structure, can be seen on Miller Ridge behind the café. Sixteen years later, the re-growth of flora and the return of fauna can be viewed by a number of short hikes leading out of Cooke City.|
|The Beartooth Café has also offered a unique employment experience for both locals of Cooke City and students from many countries abroad (Russia, Romania, Slovakia, West Germany, Malasia and the Czech Republic to name a few). With affordable housing available, and a low-key work environment, many cooks, waiters and dishwashers have returned to work the summer and fall tourism seasons. They may have also taken time out of their "real-world" in order to return to Cooke City and enjoy both the funkiness of the town and unmitigated beauty and wildness that surrounds it.|
For more assorted employee photos - Click here
PO Box 1114
Cooke City, MT 59020