Cody Siderius took over as manager of Blaine Creek Grill in Creston the week before Valentine’s Day.
Though faced with a rush of customers and 45-minute waits, the 33-year-old was undaunted by the challenges.
“It was something that needed to be done, so you have to step up and do it,” Siderius said. “I was in the Army and that was always it, pass or fail. You put everything into it or you don’t do it at all. That’s the way my Dad is too.”
Cody’s father is Doug Siderius, who bought the restaurant at the corner of Montana highways 35 and 206 in the spring of 2017. After refurbishing the kitchen, bathrooms and dining area, the Siderius family opened Blaine Creek Grill in September of that year.
“It was a tough time to open right before winter, but it wasn’t bad because of all the local people who didn’t want to venture into town but wanted to eat,” Cody said. “I think it took us all by surprise, it was a quick start.”’
Cody Siderius had helped with odd jobs at the restaurant since his father acquired it, but had no formal experience in the restaurant industry. He was working as an excavation contractor when Tina Engebritson, the first manager for Blaine Creek Grill, left.
“She did a fantastic job and got us up and going,” Doug said of Engebritson. “She’s the one who got us started here.”
Cody’s life took an unexpected turn when his father asked him to step in to the manager’s position.
“He’s really done an exceptional job,” Doug said. “Cody’s got a great rapport with people, we’re very blessed.”
Cody said that the current chef, Tom Sawyer, has taught him a great deal about the restaurant business in a short time. Sawyer is from Maine and worked in other Flathead Valley establishments before joining Blaine Creek Grill. Bartender Dean Howe has also been a valuable source of support and knowledge, Cody said.
The Siderius family created a brand-new menu when they purchased the restaurant. Prime rib night on Thursdays has proven to be a huge hit with customers, with the tables turning over at least three times in the course of those evenings, Cody said.
The restaurant also draws diners with a fish special on Wednesdays and at Cody’s suggestion, recently started serving barbecue specials on Tuesdays.
“Tuesdays are our slower nights, and I told Tom we have to do something,” Cody said.
The regular menu features ribeye and sirloin steaks, chicken, salmon and pasta dishes, as well as a selection of flatbreads.
The menu might see some seasonal changes, Doug said, but for the most part there are few surprises. He said that being able to rely on Blaine Creek Grill for a quality meal has been a big part of the restaurant’s success.
“We’ve tried to be real consistent,” Doug said. “Our hours and menu have stayed the same. We’re trying to keep it price-wise where it’s affordable for people. We just want them to have a great meal and a couple of drinks.”
The Siderius family has deep ties to the east side of the valley, with their farmland located near the restaurant property. As a child, Doug played on the land where Blaine Creek Grill now sits. In 1997, when Pete LeDonne built the Mountain Crossroads golf course that surrounds the restaurant, Doug excavated the ponds.
Doug knew the property well, but had no experience in the food-service world before purchasing the restaurant.
“The Siderius family is in the construction business, we have excavators and ’dozers,” Doug said.
Many members of the Siderius family pitched in to open the restaurant and have stayed involved in the business. Doug’s daughter-in-law Amber Siderius keeps the Blaine Creek Grill Facebook account up to date and her photos of the family’s farms adorn the walls.
One is a large shot of a fire a few years ago on the farm.
“We want to have a story when someone asks us about these,” Doug said. “In this one we were combining and unfortunately had a grain fire.”
Doug believes that the Siderius family’s commitment to the community has been repaid through the loyalty of local customers who want to see them succeed. The restaurant has gone through a number of phases, changing hands multiple times in the past few decades.
“We’re so respectful of our neighbors and are tickled to death that they’ve supported us in the low times,” Doug said. “That’s why we’ve done so well.”
He said local traffic slows down considerably in the summer, but tourists make up for the loss. The restaurant is located at a prime intersection for drive-by traffic. The large deck, offering sweeping views of the mountains, is a perfect draw for tourists.
When the outdoor tables are available, customer capacity for the restaurant, which seats about 60 inside, is more than doubled.
“The deck is really popular in the summertime,” Doug said. “It’s gorgeous when the grass is mowed and the creek is running. There aren’t a lot of places you can sit out on the deck and have a few beers and look into Glacier Park and the kids can play nearby.”
Blaine Creek Grill is currently open for dinner, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 4 to 9 p.m., with lunch service starting in the summer. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/blainecreekgrill/