“You know, Mom and Pops.”
I thought of this, as I looked at my sausage and scrambled eggs. Out of curiosity, last week I called the Wyoming Office of Tourism, posing as a tourist, to ask whether there are any restaurants in Dubois.
You know, it’s a pretty small town.
Sure, she said. There are places to eat there. You know, Moms and Pops.
I recognized her tone of voice: the big-city cognoscenti. I’ve been there myself, for many years, in a much bigger town than Cheyenne, where she was speaking from. “Moms and Pops” are not, well, cool.
I was waiting for my car repair across the street at 3D Oil, this week, and I stopped by for breakfast at the Village Cafe. Not the place the Office of Tourism would recommend, clearly. Their promotional material tends to focus on the Cowboy Cafe, which has the right branding. A fine establishment itself, but always crowded in the high summer season (therefore).
I guess nobody had told her about the Bistro, which is pretty darned cool itself.
You can usually get a table at the Village Cafe.
It’s quiet season now, only a few hunters and retired ranchers stopping by for breakfast. The old guys at the next table were talking about cattle, tractors, and hay. The other folks were quiet.
There was a nice, hometown feel about it. I sat back and read my book while I enjoyed my eggs.
In Dubois, we thrive on Moms and Pops who started their businesses years ago and stay around because we love it here, and (like the couple who just opened Noon Rock Pizza) the kids of Mom and Pop, who start something new because they want to live here. Or the couple who opened Moose Outpost, the hamburger stand across the highway, which rivals Wendy’s for quality but not for brand recognition.
I’ve always admired the big screen TV at the front of Village Cafe, which features real facts about our history and geography, like this one. So folks passing through can learn a little about the area with their hotcakes and hash browns.
The menu is sparse: Eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, French toast, in various combinations at corresponding prices. Nothing fancy. You know what you’re going to get, and it’s pretty good.
“A chain restaurant would never survive here,” said Dustin, coming out from the kitchen to talk with me. “They wouldn’t be able to make it through the slow season.” For that, you need the Moms and Pops who are committed to the community and determined to stay in this place they love.
Of course because I live here, I have never actually stayed in the Wind River Motel, which is attached physically and financially to the Village Cafe. From the outside, it looks modest, to say the least. I’m not sure I would stop here myself if I were a stranger passing through.
In recent months, I’ve taken the opportunity to speak to several people who have stayed there — a man from Colorado who brings up his truck full of peaches and tomatoes in late summer, and a pair of cyclists passing through from coast to coast.
They told me it’s a great deal: good beds, very clean and comfortable, and the price is definitely right: Well south of $100 a night, about a third what you’d pay over the pass in Jackson.
There are those who won’t stop in Dubois because we don’t have a Hyatt or even a Holiday Inn Express. We’ll manage just fine without them, thank you. We’re OK with who we are: Moms and Pops and folks who just like it here and want to keep it this way, which is pretty wonderful.
© Lois Wingerson, 2018
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