By Danae Lenz, firstname.lastname@example.org courtesy of East Idaho Business Journal
Old Town Pocatello is getting a little snazzier thanks to a new restaurant in the historic Yellowstone Hotel.
The Yellowstone restaurant, 230 W. Bonneville St., is an upscale eatery with a farm-to-table focus, featuring menu items with ingredients from local sources, including produce, meats and more.
The Yellowstone Hotel itself is owned by Pocatello businessman Dick Carroll, but the restaurant on the first floor is owned by local entrepreneurs Rory Erchul, Jennifer Erchul, Denis Clijsters and Mike McCormick.
The restaurant, which had its grand opening Sept. 14, features a rotating menu that changes seasonally and includes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
The current menu includes entrees such as “Tomahawk-style short ribs braised in rich demi-glace with wild mushroom truffle risotto and rosemary aromatic” ($32) and “Frenched chicken breast on top of pappardelle tossed in a creamy basil pesto sauce with sundried tomatoes” ($18) and appetizers such as “assorted cheeses with dried and fresh seasonal fruit, honeycomb and house-made crisp bread” ($15) and “sea mussels steamed in white wine and garlic butter, served with pomme frites” ($12). Everything, including the bread and butter, is made in house.
“This is an experience,” Jennifer Erchul said. “It’s not just a place where you’re going to chow down your food as fast as you can and get out of here. So we want people to linger, and we want them to have great conversation, and we want them to fully enjoy the entire time that they’re here.”
The Yellowstone’s liquor license is taking longer than expected, but despite that, Jennifer Erchul said the new restaurant’s opening night was “fantastic.”
“The great thing is people are already tasting the food and talking about how great the food is, so people are coming for the food,” Jennifer Erchul said. “Some people canceled their reservations because of the alcohol. Some people kept walking because of the alcohol, but people that planned to come in still came in. We had a busy night. It was pretty awesome.”
At most, it will take the restaurant 90 days to obtain its liquor license— and in the meantime you can try what Rory Erchul calls “temple-worthy mocktails.”
“Our LDS friends absolutely love it,” he said. “They feel like we thought of them as well. We thought about that population and what we could provide them. They’re all non-alcoholic drink options that are pretty phenomenal.”
In addition to the main restaurant, there is also a whiskey bar — called The 313 — that has more than 150 whiskeys. Prices will range from $2 to $10 for half-ounce pours and $8 to $40 for 2-ounce pours once The Yellowstone gets its liquor license.
The restaurant will also eventually add The Union, a taproom featuring regional beer and wine and upscale pub food. It’s a more casual option for people wanting to try out The Yellowstone and will be on the back side of the building facing Union Pacific Avenue. The Union still needs to be renovated and is awaiting new flooring and a long bar that will look out toward the railroad tracks. There will also be a large patio outside — complete with heaters, blankets and fire pits so it can be enjoyed in cold weather as well.
Jennifer Erchul said The Union will play host to some events, including comedy nights, live music and game nights.
“We really want to utilize this space for people to have fun,” she said. “This is going to be a grown-up bar. We’re not looking to get super rowdy. We’re not looking to be super loud. But we want to make sure that we do provide entertainment that’s a lot of fun and gives a reason to keep coming back.”
While everything else is worth bragging about as well, the highlight of The Yellowstone is the building itself.
According to SAH Archipedia, “The Yellowstone Hotel, built in support of the Oregon Short Line (Railroad), is a four-story, Renaissance Revival structure lavishly embellished with buff-colored terra-cotta. … This grand hotel and office building still evokes the elegant era of railroad travel.”
The Yellowstone restaurant’s main dining area features tall windows that look out onto South Main and West Bonneville streets. The area has been repainted a soothing gray, and a wall was added in front of the servers’ alley, making the area look tidier and giving servers some privacy.
Next door, the whiskey bar is the best feature of the building. Formerly the Yellowstone Hotel’s lobby, The 313 has all original features, including wallpaper, crown molding and woodwork, which is the main architectural feature of the room, and it is everywhere. The woodwork is a little beat up in some places, but Jennifer Erchul said they refrained from doing any major renovations to the space.
“All we did is come in and we cleaned and then we oiled the wood,” Jennifer Erchul said. “That’s all we did. We don’t want to change anything. … It’s a whiskey bar. It’s supposed to be wood-panelled and old.”
Additionally, a lot of the light fixtures in The Yellowstone are original, including one that has four heads on it: a progression of a woman from childhood to old age.
According to Jennifer Erchul, there is some discrepancy about whether the Yellowstone Hotel was built in 1913 or 1915. Regardless, it’s more than a century old, and in that century several businesses have been located there, including a drug store, various restaurants and bars through the years, as well as a hotel. Most recently, the building was home to The Bridge restaurant, which was sold to the owners of The Yellowstone in August.
“It’s kind of cool thinking about all the people who have walked through these doors in the last hundred years,” Jennifer Erchul said.
The owners hope The Yellowstone will be an asset to Old Town.
“What we want to do with this establishment is we want to help augment all the great things that are happening in Old Town,” Rory Erchul said. “We feel and believe that the more things that are happening down here and the more attractions, the more we’re all going to do better. We want to make Old Town Pocatello a greater destination than it already is. … It’s a great place. So we want to be down here as well.”
Jennifer Erchul added about the restaurant, “We want to be a place for the community. We’re working closely with local farmers and local ranchers, so we’re giving back in that regard. We also want to be a bit of an economic driver down here. We’ve got a large staff compared to (other Old Town businesses), and we want to make sure this is a place that everybody is welcome.”
The Yellowstone restaurant currently employs 25 people.
The Yellowstone opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and continues serving food until 10 p.m. but doesn’t close its doors until midnight. The restaurant also plans to eventually serve lunch.