Blarnie Tanner doesn’t stray much from breakfast.
“The same,” he says, pointing to his plate, “Bacon, granola, orange juice, and coffee.”
Tanner, 80, also buys his morning meal from the same place every day for the six months of the year he lives in Jackson Hole: Nora’s Fish Creek Inn, the award-winning West Bank restaurant that offers home-cooked food to commuters, residents and visitors since 1982, when Nora and Marvin Tygum opened the place.
More recently, Nora’s has been on the market, originally listed for $10 million – restaurant and land included – but then split into a $1.5 million restaurant listing and a separate $8 million listing. dollars for the land. But Kathryn Taylor, the Tygums’ daughter who runs the joint, decided a few weeks ago to take it off the market. She wasn’t getting the kind of contract she wanted. And she found a new manager to help her run things. But Tanner, a longtime regular, wasn’t particularly fazed by the back and forth.
“That’s the way it is,” Tanner said. “I see the same kind of things at home. And I see the same kind of thing here. When you’re done, you don’t care. So you give up.”
But Tanner agreed with other younger diners. If Nora’s were sold, he thought it could damage the character of downtown Wilson, the relatively quiet unincorporated stopover at the base of Teton Pass that has been spared the bustling commercial development of downtown Jackson. . Nora’s has been a staple of Wilson’s main street for 40 years now, complemented by age-old haunts like the Stagecoach Bar, now less of a cowboy bar – except on Sundays, when the Stagecoach Band plays swing dance tunes from its stage – and more than a bar for mountain bikers and skiers.
For him, Nora is “somewhere to go”. But it is also more than that.
“It’s like stepping back in time,” he says.
But Taylor and her new manager, Nick Paglione, who moved to the area from Washington DC to be closer to his 9-year-old daughter in Bozeman, Montana, are trying to bring Nora’s into the future. They have plans for the restaurant, to make money in mind. Prices have already gone up a bit since Paglione’s arrival, and the owner and manager are looking to expand their offerings. Starting July 1, Taylor and Paglione plan to open for dinner, offering reservations on OpenTable. In the meantime, they start a happy hour on the back porch.
“We need a change of food at Wilson,” Taylor said. “When my mother made breakfast, lunch and dinner, we killed her. There was a queue at the door as there was for breakfast.
The goal, in the minds of Taylor and Paglione, is to provide another option for Wilson residents, similar to what the Stagecoach offers on summer afternoons.
“It’s not about the competition,” Paglione said. “There are a lot of people in town.
The dinner menu has yet to be ironed out and Taylor and Paglione still need to hire a chef to make that happen. But happy hour is moving forward, even though people can’t order drinks at the bar under Nora’s permits, Paglione said. The restaurant cannot, for example, throw drafts and mixed drinks at the bar that regulars occupy for breakfast. But he can deliver drinks to people on the back porch, and Taylor and Paglione hope that will be a hit.
Part of the goal is to show that Nora can do what Taylor thinks she can do. She said she turned down an offer from Tom Fay, owner of Pinky G’s, to buy the restaurant for $1 million and pay off the remaining $500,000 over a few years, interest-free.
“I want to wait another year and prove that the place can make $3 or $4 million a year and turn around and sell it for what I wanted,” Taylor said.
A future isn’t necessarily something Nora’s owner is committed to, but it’s also not something she rules out. If someone offers her the right price, she is ready to sell.
“I don’t need the money. I don’t need to sell it,” Taylor said. “People are like, ‘It’s not worth $10 million.’ But it’s mine, and it’s the only way I do it.
As Taylor considered Fay’s offer, finding Paglione encouraged her to pump the brakes. She feels like he’s “all of that” – and he offers to take people management away from her, allowing Taylor to come in one day a week to whip up some of her classic recipes and enjoy the rest of her time. Taylor, who took over the restaurant more than five years ago, said she wished she could spend more time with her family and pets. She also dreams of opening a restaurant in Big Piney, but said that is not on the cards at the moment.
“It’s still a dream of mine, but it’s not going to happen this year,” she said.
In the meantime, Taylor said, she wants to make it through the summer, giving her and her employees a chance to earn a few bucks. Nora’s customers weren’t upset about it.
Bennett Timmerman, 27, was happily munching on a Spanish omelet, his staple.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had anything other than that,” he said.
When asked why, he just pointed to his plate.
“Look at this, man,” he said. “Good sauce, good hash browns, sourdough bread to mop it up. Even better when Luna gives me her bacon.
Timmerman was referring to Luna Wasson, 27, his girlfriend, who grew up in Wilson. Wasson, for her part, said she didn’t grow up going to Nora with her family. They didn’t go out much to eat. But she started frequenting the log cabin restaurant in high school. It was a gathering place.
She was upset when she learned that Nora might sell.
“Everything has been put up for sale. Add it to the list,” she said, remembering her inner monologue when she heard.
But she and her childhood friend Nina Berlin, 26, were happy to see him stay – at least for now.
Berlin would go to Nora’s house with her recently deceased father. They sat on the west side of the restaurant. She would have chocolate chip pancakes.
“It’s the institution more than the menu,” Berlin said. “It’s very recognizable, very intimate, so familiar. It’s nice to be able to come back 25 years later, and it’s exactly the same.
Taylor said she was not convinced that keeping Wilson’s character was the right reason to keep Nora’s. But she acknowledged tearing it down and building apartments — which would be allowed with a basic use permit under Wilson’s downtown zoning — wouldn’t be popular. Still, she’s willing to part ways with the place for the right price and the right time.
For Tanner, who has been around a bit longer than the young Wilsonites, it was no surprise.
“That’s how it is,” he said.
But he acknowledged that Wilson would be missed if – or when – it happened.
“The city would lose something that you can’t replace overnight,” Tanner said.