The Cuisine Machine’s Tim Good is accustomed to peddling his delicacies from atop four wheels, but even though the celebrated food-trucker has graduated to brick-and-mortar status, he’s keeping his keys in the ignition.
Good’s new role at the helm of Haskill Station in Whitefish marks a merging of two favorite local staples rather than a departure from either popular eatery, which should please locals accustomed to the signature menus.
Customers won’t notice any immediate changes at Haskill, situated on Wisconsin Avenue north of the viaduct in Whitefish, and while Good has plans to revamp the menu, refurbish the interior and rename the restaurant, he’s not overhauling Haskill’s classic meals or its friendly staff.
“It’s still business as usual the Haskill way, and it’s only going to get better,” Good said.
He plans to close the restaurant to redecorate at the end of April, and reopen under a new banner (he’s still undecided on a name) after Memorial Day.
In the meantime, he’s hit the ground running, learning the ropes from a dedicated kitchen-and-wait staff that he hopes will stick around.
“All of the bones were in place. They know how to run a restaurant and everyone who works here is on their A-game,” Good said. “I’m the guy who’s learning because I’ve never had a restaurant before.”
Fortunately, Good is a quick study.
He’s been in the restaurant industry for 22 years, having entered the culinary world after graduating college in the Twin Cities, where he landed jobs at restaurants specializing in North African and French cuisine. He’s been cooking ever since, and while he’s long flirted with the idea of starting his own restaurant, it was always just out of reach while he conducted his creative cooking from the confines of a food cart.
Actually, building his business – and his sterling reputation – around a food truck like The Cuisine Machine was liberating, allowing Good to rove the Flathead Valley catering events, parties and weddings.
Good has been running The Cuisine Machine for nine years, and in that time it’s become a fixture at the Whitefish Farmers Market every summer. His walleye sandwich, sweet potato fries and market fresh salads are always popular items on the menu. He also attends community events, provides food at a rotating suite of beer dinners hosted at the Great Northern Brewing Company and caters weddings.
Still, even though Good and his crew cater upwards of 25 weddings in a summer, they frequently turned down events and parties because they don’t have the kitchen capacity to expand.
Not only does owning a restaurant provide premium parking for The Cuisine Machine – it’s been occupying valuable space in the family’s driveway for nearly a decade – it also gives Good a capacious new kitchen in which to prepare his food-truck fare while keeping the wheels turning in the restaurant.
“We’ve always struggled with adequate storage space and haven’t had enough room to prep,” Good said. “We were turning down parties left and right because we just didn’t have the space.”
Good and his wife, Ali, started eying the restaurant market last summer, but a choice venue never emerged. Then the couple heard that Pat Carloss, who also owns Tupelo Grille, was looking to sell Haskill Station, which he and his wife, Missy, grew into a casual and family friendly environment with traditional pub food offerings as well as creative entree dishes.
“We had just been exploring and when I heard that Haskill was for sale, I thought maybe it was a bit much for us. But then we just fell in love with it,” Good said. “The kitchen is big enough and the beer and wine license allows us to sell beer and wine at weddings as a catering extension.”
Good plans on incorporating Cuisine Machine favorites into the menu – the walleye sandwich, his popular Pad Thai, and chicken and waffles – while maintaining Haskill favorites like the steelhead trout and popular appetizers like the heaping basket of tater tots.
He’s also considering adopting an après-ski menu that caters to hungry customers descending from Big Mountain.
“It is going to be a work in progress as we decide what stays, what’s added and what gets replaced, but we are going to keep it a casual, family friendly dining experience and also offer some fine dining,” he said. “We will have the gamut of affordable options alongside fairly priced entrees.”
The Cuisine Machine will no longer be a mainstay at the Whitefish Farmer’s Market, but Good hopes his loyal following will make the short trip north of town on Tuesday evenings in the summer and gather at his new digs, where they can find their favorite classic dishes and sample his new offerings.
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