Good news for those who worship the patron saint of smoked meats. You no longer need to chase the bright orange Saint Lawrence Gridiron food truck around town to secure a slab of barbecued beef. Saint Lawrence Gridiron is putting the brakes on its food truck business to focus on opening a permanent spot in the former Red Headed Finn space at 705 W. Bannock St.
"We're keeping the name and we're basically just keeping the concept but moving it forward," said owner Brian Garrett. "We're using what we established with Saint Lawrence Gridiron the food truck as a springboard to become Saint Lawrence Gridiron the restaurant."
Garrett has signed a lease on the space and is in the fledgling stages of demolition and working through preliminary design. Though Garrett, formerly an architect, said he's keeping the spot's general layout and patio, "everything that can change will change."
Raised in Virginia and Maryland, Garrett wants to play up his Southeastern roots in his new brick-and-mortar location.
"We're working on dishes that emphasize grits and cornbread and Johnnycakes--basically savory cornbread pancakes," he said. "We're going to keep a lot of the stuff we did with the truck--as far as beef being a big thing in Idaho--and I feel like smoked meats kind of spin well for the West. We're honestly in the midst of menu and recipe development right now."
Though Garrett has hired a head chef, he's keeping the name quiet until the restaurant gets closer to opening. Garrett plans to use local ingredients "as much as possible," along with native plants, edible flowers and house-grown herbs. He also plans to experiment with cold smoking and hopes to eventually serve bourbon.
"We do not have a liquor license, but we're building the bar to be able to scale it up for liquor, and we are investigating liquor licenses," he said.
Garrett would like to have the space open by mid-March, but admits that might be a bit ambitious.
"Every day that goes by makes me nervous about saying that," said Garrett. "There's plenty of work to do; we really are changing every single inch of the space so we've got a lot of work to do between now and mid-March."
In the meantime, it looks like the Saint Lawrence Gridiron food truck might be parked for good.
"Right now, the idea is to not be running the truck, but we'll see how that all works out," Garrett said. "Me being new to the food profession, I want to commit 100 percent of my time to the restaurant at this point."
In other changing-things-up news, the much beleaguered Bouquet space at 1010 Main St. is once again under new management.
Briefly (and confusingly) crowned The Ice Bouquet, the spot closed its doors in mid-November to undergo yet another remodel before reopening Dec. 18.
"Right now, we're just trying to get everything lined up so that way the bar's functional ... redoing the stage, we redid the menu," said general manager Ben Landon. "So, basically, what we're aiming for is to have different genres of music in there and to try to have different bands in there every day."
Landon was tight-lipped about who's behind the new management ("private investors that don't wish to be named") and how the space will change ("we really want to just see what people want to do with it and that's what we'll do"), but he was adamant that The Ice Bouquet days are done.
"We're not trying to be like a Vegas-style nightclub," said Landon. "We're not trying to be China Blue or Fatty's," said Landon. "We want it to be more relaxed, where people can come in and actually enjoy the live music."
One change Landon did want to emphasize, though, was lower prices.
"I just felt like the price-points the prior owners and management were using were extremely high, so I made it more neighborhood bar-priced," said Landon. "On Fridays and Saturdays, we have a happy hour that runs from 6:30-11 p.m.; $2 wells and $2 domestics. Once we start opening at 2 p.m. in February, we'll have the more traditional happy hour from 2-8 p.m. or whatever."
The Bouquet is now operating Wednesdays-Saturdays from 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. As of Saturday, Feb. 1, the club plans to be open from 2 p.m.-2 a.m., seven days a week.
Landon confirmed that Stevie Stone from Tech N9ne's Strange Music record label is scheduled to perform Friday, Jan. 24.
And in closing news, after 18 years in business, Golden Phoenix Oriental Express officially shut its doors at 110 N. 11th St.
BW freelance reporter Jessica Murri stopped by on closing day, Dec. 31, to ask owner Jimmy Yuan a couple of questions. Here's an excerpt from their interview. The full Q&A can be read here:
BW: So how do you feel?
JY: I'm glad. I'm sad and I'm happy. It's been 18 years. I've come here every morning. I feel sorry for the people who have come here the last couple weeks. I didn't have good service, because so busy.
What's the name of your restaurant, exactly?
We call it Golden Phoenix Oriental Express, because when we first came here, I actually wanted it called Golden Phoenix, but the city didn't like it so I changed it to Oriental Express. The first few years here were kind of tough. People at first thought it was fast food. Then they come here and they try the food and they say, "Oh, you're not fast food. Your food is tasty."
When you look around your restaurant now, what do you think?
It's my baby still, you know. Eighteen years, I've taken care of it. I stayed here more than my home.