A new farm-to-table restaurant with an attached greenhouse plant nursery is set to open in June a mile west of the Missoula International Airport.
Local restaurateur Cheryl Bregen and her team have been working hard for the past year to remodel the former Ibey Nursery and Garden Center at 6170 Butler Creek Road. She’s transformed the interior into a modern, inviting space called Rooster Loo Farm, Market and Eatery.
There's a coffee bar, a full commercial kitchen and mezzanine seating with views of U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers practicing across West Broadway Avenue. When the place opens at the end of May or early June, she plans to begin serving breakfast items, salads and lunch items like tomato bisque soup and meatball Parmesan sandwiches.
“I’ve always loved farming, I’ve always love gardening, I’ve always loved cooking and I’ve always loved the restaurant business,” Bregen said. “This is kind of a little bit of everything that I love.”
She has high aspirations for the place, including perhaps community education programs and live music events. For now, she’s just going to serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, but hopes to add dinner and weekend options eventually.
Bregen is no stranger to the restaurant business, having founded the successful Tagliare Delicatessen in Missoula in 2008 before selling it in 2014. She now wants to create a true farm-to-table experience.
“That’s the true vision,” she said. “It’s tough in Montana. Heating greenhouses is a major expense. But ideally, yes, I would love that. We will probably sustain through the (Western Montana) Growers Cooperative and other local farmers. But we’re just about fresh, clean and simple food.”
She said the menu items can be classified as “simple farm Americana.”
“I want to target everyone,” she said. “It’s not just about gluten-free people. It won’t be just vegan or vegetarian. We’ll keep it as local as we can and true to good taste. It’s about community.”
She’ll work with local meat producers, and her greenhouses will supply fresh leafy greens and other vegetables. She’ll also be selling plant starts, herbs and lavender and hopes to sometimes serve meals in the greenhouse. She’s already been selling tomatoes and other greens to local restaurants.
There will be breakfast burritos and three soups a day. Bregen said she learned how to cook from her mother and has always loved it.
“We're going to make all of our broths in-house," she explained.
As for the name, it turns out someone gave her a giant rooster statue at one point, as one does in Missoula.
“So I thought, no matter what we call ourselves, we’re going to be the place with the big rooster,” she said, grinning. The statue will be welded onto an old flatbed truck on the road outside.
With a 3-acre farm to manage as well, Bregen currently has six staff members and is hoping to get to 15 total. She believes the industrial area she’s in has an untapped market for food options because there isn’t anything else nearby, and U.S. Forest Service workers and airport workers have told her they’re excited. The area between West Broadway and Mullan Road is booming with new housing as well.
“And someday I’m hoping, maybe we can be an outdoor venue,” she said.
For more information visit Roosterloo.com.