Montana's Cookhouse
ready to open doors

Food: New restaurant will welcome its first customers on Monday before its official grand opening a week from today

Jeff Ducharme, Telegraph-Journal: Published Saturday March 22nd, 2008
Appeared on page B3


KÀTE LEBLANC PHOTO

Bill Cleveland put some finishing touches on the parking lot at the new Montana's restaurant, which is set to open Monday.

SAINT JOHN - The moose and deer will be on the wall and hanging around when Montana's Cookhouse opens its latest restaurant in New Brunswick Monday in Saint John.

"They're up on the wall waiting for the opening," said Ron Craig, a spokesman for the restaurant chain. "We can't shut them up."

Craig said kids love them and people actually request a table nearby in hopes of eavesdropping on a conversation between the pair or maybe having one with the moose and deer themselves. But, he said, the moose and deer that have highlighted the company's advertising campaigns aren't that talkative when the restaurant is full of guests.

"They'll be there, I'm not sure they'll be in a talkative mood," he said of when the restaurant opens. "They tend to talk to themselves. They don't talk to the guests."

The two, he said, have their own little "shtick" that they do.

"They're a little bit like Santa Claus, they exist in all of our restaurants. It's a fun concept and the moose and deer have been great spokesanimals for us."

Set up like a lodge, the restaurant will feature the trademark moose and deer as well as its signature red pick-up truck, which the restaurant is constructed around. More than 120 full- and part-time employees are on staff at the restaurant which is located in the East Point Shopping complex on the east side.

"There's a whole bunch of other interesting artifacts that you would expect to find in a lodge or a cookhouse."

Including the very Canadian canoe.

Spread across North America with some 80 locations, what began in Hamilton, Ont., in 1955 has begun to gain a foothold in Atlantic Canada.

"I think there's something with the concept that really resonates with the east coast," Craig said.

The chain will open another restaurant in Fredericton later this year.

"You can come as you are and you don't have to worry if they're making some noise or having some fun and you don't have to compromise on the food," Craig said.

Craig said the home-style concept just seems to fit well with families on the east coast.

"There's just lots to look at when you're there enjoying our famous signature ribs or our steak."

And, he said, there is also what one would expect at a cookhouse - beans.

"But no wieners," Craig said, of the infamous western combination of beans and wieners.

The ribs are also hickory smoked inhouse.

And if you're brave and have a serious sweet tooth, he said, the Mile High Mudpie takes two days to prepare and almost as long to eat.

"It's something I've never, ever been able to do on my own," said Craig. "If you bring a family of four and go at it, you can make a dent in it."


KÀTE LEBLANC PHOTO

The inside of Montana’s has a lodge feel to it.