Saturday, July 20, 2024

Birch Provisions feeds community spirit

Hagadone News Network | June 26, 2024 12:00 AM

“I think I want Birch to be a community hub where everyone’s welcome. We can be a place where people can keep up on things and get involved with things,” said Stephanie Meyers, owner of Birch Provisions, which opened in downtown Bigfork mid-May.  

The cafe is a blend of fast-casual comfort food; homemade sandwiches, baked goods, chocolates, coffees, teas and smoothies alongside a retail section filled out with local art and goods. Meyers’s vision is a welcoming, family-friendly place with great food flavors and accessible pricing; as homemade, organic, natural and local as possible.  

The space on the second story of the Double Eagle building on Electric Avenue has a new kitchen, bar and balcony seating. There is an elevator and stairs leading to the counter, and large windows around the seating area that overlook downtown Bigfork.  

Meyers hopes Birch will be more than a restaurant and retail, though.  

“I want to be a collaborator with other downtown businesses. I want to help support the school district, I want to help support community projects,” she said.  

Meyers is Montana-born; her grandparents came to Swan Lake in the 70s and her family has since settled in the valley. She helped her aunt and uncle start up the Stonehill Kitchen in Bigfork and, with her sisters’ help, sought out the space on Electric Avenue as a daytime complement to Stonehill’s evening service. However, when Stonehill closed in 2023 and her sisters moved, she found herself committed to a space and unsure of its purpose.  

“So the last year, I spent some time thinking, ‘How can I add value to Bigfork?’ Given that this is not my first language, I’ve never run a cafe and a retail space, it’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s been fun,” Meyers said. 

“Our vision was always, ‘Do something in Bigfork that’s not here. Don’t duplicate existing services or merchandise.’” 

Meyers has always been an educator, regardless of her actual job title. That value shines through in Birch Provision’s Lending Library tree. Birch is also helping the Bigfork Library in its capital campaign drive. In the fall, she hopes Birch Provisions can be used as a teaching space with room for homeschoolers and its own classes, from needed topics such as financial literacy to fun things like, ‘How to make truffles.’ 

A community bulletin board at the entrance is conducive to Birch’s ultimate goal – to bring people together. In an unincorporated community with a varying population season-to-season, keeping people united and accessibility at the forefront is key. 

Meyers also puts a heavy emphasis on collaboration. Her employees have helped shape the space, contributing their artistic vision to the wall paintings, and their new recipes to the menu. Birch’s retailers are local makers that try to support humanity and the environment through their craft, some donate proceeds to nonprofits, others are eco-friendly. In the name of collaboration, some of the spreads available for sale are also used on Birch’s sandwiches. Four drinks have been released correlating to Bigfork Summer Playhouse’s shows, taste-tested by the cast.  

Come July, Birch will partner with Becca Stacey at Crave Charcuterie to provide grab-and-go charcuterie. Birch also plans to launch picnic baskets, which can be ordered the day beforehand. In the future, Meyers hopes to transfer Stonehill’s liquor license to Birch, which would allow it to expand its operating hours and services.  

For now, Birch Provisions is open 8 a.m.  to 4 p.m. daily at 475 Electric Ave #3 in Bigfork. Their website will launch by July 1.  

“The community has been incredibly supportive...,” Meyers said. “People have been so nice, and that’s the Bigfork I know.”