Fork in the River Finds a Permanent Home

Branching off of his food truck, Chef Tony Traina has a new and permanent location in Evergreen

By Maggie Dresser
Tony Traina, owner of Fork in the River, stands by his restaurant’s food truck in Kalispell on Dec. 13, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

At any given day of the week, Tony Traina’s food truck, Fork in the Road, can be found anywhere around the Flathead, from farmers’ markets and festivals to weddings across the valley.

But since Traina set up shop in a permanent location in November, the red truck has seen fewer road miles. Sitting on Highway 2 in Evergreen, the new restaurant, Fork in the River, is nestled between the Sacred Waters Brewing Company and Rough Cut Hard Cider.

“I thought it was fortuitous for me to be able to open up shop between two established businesses,” Traina said. “It helps me get through that initial phase.”

Now that Traina’s business is in a permanent location, his operation is more stable and he’s open daily from noon to 8 p.m. in addition to the truck.

He’s also excited to have his own kitchen space. Since he started the truck in the spring of 2018, he was renting space from someone else. With the restaurant, he can also run the catering and food truck out of the same place.

“Everything feeds off of each other,” he said.

While Traina describes the truck food as gourmet street fare, he says both the food in the truck and the restaurant is simple.

“We’re just trying to take simple food and make it really good,” Traina said.

From tacos to Cubanos, Traina’s menu is fairly straight forward, but he and his 10-person crew make everything from scratch. He buys his pork locally and smokes the meat all night before adding it to his menu items.

Traina is especially proud of the Middle Fork Falafel, which his food truck partner established when they were brainstorming vegetarian options. The falafel is served in a pita with tabouli, tzatziki, hummus and feta cheese, which he says competes with the meat options on the menu.

Since Traina has moved into the restaurant space, he’s working on diversifying the menu since he has more space to work with. He’s added chowders to go with the fish and chips and he always has a rotating soup of the day.

Since moving back to the area 10 years ago, Traina worked in a few different kitchens but spent most of his time at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant where he learned a lot about the food industry.

“Working in there was so good for my career,” Traina said.

The restaurant’s kitchen model created a consistent and organized operation where the staff did everything the same way, he said.

“That’s the way I’m trying to model my kitchen,” Traina said. “It’s the little things, the way we store the product and the attention to detail. There’s an art to everything,” he said.

While Traina has only just opened Fork in the River, he’s already brainstormed a five-year plan for his restaurant’s future. He plans to keep the food truck and potentially buy a larger second truck to tackle big weddings and events that his current truck might not be able to handle.

An additional restaurant location is also on Traina’s radar as he envisions Fork in the River’s expansion.

But in the meantime, Traina is grateful for a successful first month of operation.

“The support from the community has been really humbling,” he said.

Fork in the River is located at 3250 U.S. Highway 2 East in Kalispell and operates daily from noon to 8 p.m.

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