Inventing Plan C
Everything stopped on March 5, 2009 when a natural gas explosion devastated several businesses in downtown Bozeman. The beloved sandwich shop was completely destroyed.
Glen smiled ironically and called it “our forced expansion program.”
If they were to make a successful comeback, the Starks needed to re-invent. “We went though those first three months saying, ‘we’re done.’ This was our Plan B, we didn’t have a Plan C,” Kathy said.
The outpouring of community concern persuaded the Starks to carry on. “You make sandwiches for people. You don’t realize how much it means till it’s gone,” Kathy shared. “We couldn’t go two feet without someone asking us, ‘When are you going to open again? We miss you.’”
Recognizing how well their “authentic deli concept” had succeeded, they wondered what might happen if they grew the idea to include other American regional cuisine.
The Americana menu began to evolve. Chicken and waffles and sweet potato fries are great Southern soul food, while the wild garlic shrimp has a southern California flare, and the Starky’s take on steak and fries is as local as you can get. Then there’s the pan seared salmon and the mushroom and asparagus polenta for a Northwest tribute.
With their expanded menu, Glen and Kathy celebrated their re-opening as Starky’s Authentic Americana on April 9, 2010. The new location, a block off Main, has patio dining out front and a more modern look inside. Decisively ready to move on from the tragedy, the Starks showcased all the original lunch favorites, and dinner and Sunday brunch, along with a beer and wine list.
They also feature more local and regional produce and meats. Purple barley in their ancient grain pilaf comes from Timeless Seeds in Eastern Montana. “We pair salmon from Montana Fish Company with (Timeless Seeds) black lentils and locally grown greens from Field Day Farms for a knockout menu item,” Kathy said.
Beer batters are crafted with Bozone Select Amber Ale and chili flavored with a splash of Madison River Salmon Fly Honey Rye. There are meats from Sweet Grass Natural Lamb and Montana’s Best Meats in Whitehall. WayFare Incorporated in Bozeman supplies dairy-free alternatives for the vegetarian and vegan soups. “It’s a relationship business,” Kathy said. “We enjoy the challenge of creating new menu items or specials using Montana products.”
And then there’s dessert. “I have the most talented pastry chef in the city,” Kathy said of Erin Good, who is responsible for their sweets and baked goods. “Everything she touches is magic.”