Published in the Post Register Nov. 29, 2009.
CHALLIS – Every town has its official power structure, and then there are the real movers and shakers. In Challis, Custer County’s unofficial brain trust meets every morning at the Y Inn Cafe to ponder everything from cattle prices to health care.
The Y Inn has been a Challis fixture since the late 1940s, more than half that time under the loving ownership of the same local family. Today, the latest branch of that family, Larry and Vicki Weiner, have come together against all odds to keep the restaurant, lounge and dining room humming.
The Weiners met via a very early version of the Internet in mid-1990s – she was in Challis, he was a professional golfer in Dallas – and, of course, they married and eventually settled in Challis. No, Larry Weiner hadn’t ever seen the place and, no, he has no regrets. They eventually took over the family restaurant near where U.S. 93 meets Main Street, a spot once known as “the Y” before the highway came through.
There are complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The Weiners have plans to expand the choices, which isn’t easy when so much of the food requires such personal attention.
During vacation season the Y serves a host of travelers to central Idaho, but in the winter it’s pretty much the locals. There’s a huge bar and lounge next to the café and in front of the dining room, known not only for a big selection of adult beverages but for the fact that there’s no smoking allowed. The Weiners say most patrons have been OK with the policy.
Of course, the Y also serves as the venue for Custer County’s power elite.
“We have the round table where all the world’s problems are solved,” says Larry.
Perhaps they should let the rest of us in on their plans.