Thursday, November 19, 2009

Custer County's seat of power

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.

Larry Weiner once haunted the qualifier circuits of professional golf, but nowadays he hand-cuts and cubes the beef for the Y’s signature chicken fried steak and makes breakfast sausage from the recipe handed down from Vicki’s dad, Roy. Vicki’s mom, May Quigley, still makes fresh cinnamon rolls. Pretty much everything here is homemade, including the salad dressings and the rolls used for the French dip sandwiches. Vicki cooks, does the books, whatever needs to be done.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Been eating at the Y for years. Never a bad meal. Never a grumpy waitress.