WHITEFISH — Some things, like a hearty stew or rich bisque, take a long, slow boil to reach its fullest, most flavorful potential. The same could be said about Cypress Yard on Wisconsin Avenue in Whitefish.
What started as an art gallery and later became an event space and bar, with a light charcuterie menu, has now become a Mediterranean-focused restaurant. The restaurant is having a soft opening this month, including a special Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 14, before hosting a grand opening in March.
The gallery-turned-restaurant is owned and run by the Cawdrey family, including Steve and Nancy, their son Morgan and his wife Avis. Nancy is an accomplished artist and owned a gallery in Bigfork with her husband Steve for more than two decades before moving north Whitefish.
Steve said the family was heading out to dinner back in 2017 when they spotted a “For Rent” sign on the building at 204 Wisconsin Ave., which prior to that had been home to Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits (which has since moved to Evergreen). The following day, Steve called the owner on a whim. Initially, considering the location on Wisconsin Avenue, he thought it would be too expensive, but it turns out the price was just right. Steve and Nancy had dueling reasons to move north. For one, they wanted a smaller gallery. Secondly, they wanted to be closer to their son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
In 2017, Cypress Yard opened for business, but soon after Morgan saw the potential to expand as an event space. In 2018, the gallery got a license to serve beer and wine and, as part of that, began serving light appetizers. For the next year, events were the establishment’s primary business, but that also meant the space was often closed to the public on certain nights. Morgan said the number of events also dropped off during the winter.
“I think one of the things that was holding us back was that we were closed for events,” Morgan said. “It’s a great event space, but we really want to be open year round so we thought that a restaurant would be the best option.”
To help them with the transformation, the Cawdrey family hired Jordan Glosser, a Montana native and chef who worked in Helena and Denver. Glosser has worked in kitchens since she was a teenager and said the opportunity to run her own kitchen has long been a dream. She’s interested in Mediterranean food because it’s fresh and flavor forward. She also likes to cook food that is considerate of food allergies, with a major focus on organic dishes made from scratch. Among the highlights of the menu include a strawberry balsamic crostini, butternut squash raviolo and Dijon and herb encrusted lamb.
While Cypress Yard has undergone some change in recent months, Steve said it will remain an art gallery and the venue will still be open for art walk nights in Whitefish.
“We’re going to have the best decorated restaurant in the valley,” Steve said of the many paintings hanging on the walls.
The family never anticipated that they would open a restaurant but now that they have they’re excited about the opportunity.
“We want people to feel welcome,” Steve said. “We want to treat people as if they are coming into our home.”
Cypress Yard is open from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hours will likely change in the spring and summer. For more information, visit cypressyard.com.