For greater than a decade, Meg Blakney ran a catering firm that equipped meals — typically 600 meals per day — for occasions, weddings and raft firms in and round Glacier Nationwide Park. As with all enterprise on this a part of the state, spring and summer time are hair-raisingly hectic, so when the pandemic hit two years in the past and all the things got here to a halt (at the very least briefly), Blakney stopped to take a breather and take into consideration what she needed to do subsequent.
Taking a look at her profession in delicacies, Blakney may already be happy with her accomplishments — from working in positive eating eating places out east to proudly owning and working a profitable catering firm out west — however she knew she needed to have yet another act earlier than she retired for good. So in 2021, she and her husband Tom turned the catering enterprise right into a dine-in restaurant in Hungry Horse known as Dan d’Lion that serves completely vegan and plant-based dishes.
Blakney thought it was a daring option to open up a vegan restaurant in Hungry Horse, which in its heyday 70 years in the past, throughout the building of the Hungry Horse Dam, had a popularity for being a little bit tough across the edges — and typically nonetheless does. However Blakney thought it was an untapped market and he or she had information to show it: Within the final six years she ran the catering enterprise, requests for vegan meals elevated 6 % each single yr. Whereas some caterers would do the naked minimal to appease these with particular dietary wants — take pleasure in that reheated vegan lasagna — Blakney would exit of her means to ensure these requesting particular meals obtained one thing equally as tasty and wholesome. And in some situations, the ensuing vegan menu merchandise was truly higher than what she was attempting to duplicate, so she merely made the plant-based merchandise for everybody.
Even nonetheless, Blakney thought that Dan d’Lion may enchantment completely to a sure sort of eater: youthful individuals primarily keen on well being. However as quickly as she opened the doorways in June 2021, she realized the marketplace for her meals was a lot greater than anticipated.
“Earlier than we opened, I believe some individuals thought we have been loopy, however the response has been incredible,” she mentioned.
Dan d’Lion’s menu is anchored by filling salads (the Greek salad, for instance, has a pile of tomato, cucumber, purple onion, bell pepper, kalamata olives, pepperoncini peppers, tofu feta served with a flavorful home dressing) and classics like pizza, made attainable due to the restaurant’s house-made gluten-free crust. These flavorful dishes, together with all of the others on the menu, has saved individuals coming again for extra — typically fairly actually. Blakney mentioned considered one of her first prospects was within the space on trip and got here again 5 nights in a row.
However maybe one of the best buyer expertise Blakney has seen got here after introducing the huckleberry shake, lengthy a staple on Flathead Valley menus. The shake mixes Blakney’s vegan espresso cream combine — made with hazelnut butter, chia, vanilla and dates — and, in fact, huckleberries. Blakney mentioned the second they put the signal out entrance declaring the presence of vegan huckleberry shakes, individuals instantly began turning off U.S. Freeway 2. However one buyer stands proud in her thoughts. An 80-year-old girl celebrating her birthday got here together with her household quickly after the shake was added to the menu. The girl had dietary points with dairy and had by no means had a huckleberry shake earlier than. After the primary sip, she began crying.
“I noticed that and thought to myself ‘That’s why I’m doing this,’” Blakney mentioned.
Description: A vegan huckleberry shake made with vegan creamer — hazelnut butter, chia, vanilla and dates — and, in fact, native huckleberries.
Location: Dan d’Lion, 8942 U.S.Freeway 2 East, Hungry Horse
Contact: earthangelorganicsmt.com or (406)260-6654.