A Riverfront Bakery-Bar

Lake Baked and River View Bar opened in Bigfork this spring as Montana’s economy began reopening

By Maggie Dresser
Jana Van Felt and her daugther Sadie Lou Felt stand in the kitchen of Lake Baked, a bakery and cafe with an adjoining bar in Bigfork on May 29, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Jana Van Felt has always been known as “the baker” in her family, which took root when her grandmother taught her how to make her famous caramel cinnamon rolls back when she was 16 years old.

Now, she and her daughter and business partner, Sadie Lou Felt, are making those same rolls at Lake Baked, their new bakery in Bigfork.

Jana says their Granny’s Rolls have been a big hit since they officially opened on May 14, just after Montana entered Phase 1 of the reopening process, which allowed restaurants to reopen with limitations. She says they started out with takeout, but the pandemic hasn’t appeared to impact business too much as customers have been grateful they are open.

“It’s dear to me when somebody comes in and says, ‘Oh, I have to have another one of those Granny’s Rolls,’” Jana said. “Because that’s my granny they’re talking about.”

Since Jana learned the family recipe, she and Sadie have since expanded on the rolls, experimenting with savory rolls like salami and cheese, tuna and the spanakopita roll, which Jana says are becoming a popular breakfast item even though it was planned for the lunch menu.

Another favorite at the new bakery are Jana and Sadie’s hand pies, which are flaky pie-dough goods with savory fillings like artichoke or goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, or sweet fillings like strawberry rhubarb or huckleberries.

“They go so quickly that I have a tough time keeping them in,” Jana said.

While Lake Baked has its own original recipes, Jana also inherited some of the original recipes from the building’s previous business, Brookie’s Cookies, which occupied the space from 1991 to 2016.

In addition to the bakery, the previous owner also opened Brookside Yard, a small outdoor bar behind the bakery, in 2008. Overlooking the Swan River and a section of the Wild Mile portion of the whitewater stretch, the outdoor bar area, which is now called Riverview Bar, also has a stage where they plan to eventually host live music. With so much outdoor spacing on the lawn filled with red Adirondack chairs and fire pits, Jana says it’s already naturally socially distanced.

While the mother-daughter duo focuses most of their energy on the bakery portion of the business, they’ve hired a team to run the bar, which opens at 2 p.m., right when the bakery closes. Jana says they’ve received overwhelming support from the Bigfork community since opening this spring, with business owners in the area offering help with pricing and other business advice.

“Where else do you find that?” Jana said. “The UPS store sent us flowers and said, ‘Welcome to the community.’ We have great neighbors. This is just a really great community and everybody supports everybody else and they want us to succeed.”

Jana and Sadie say the toughest part has been adjusting to a baker’s schedule, which requires a 2 a.m. wakeup. But they say they are learning to enjoy the quiet, early morning hours when the rest of the town is asleep.

“My favorite time is from three to five in the morning,” Jana said. “We can dance around and we’re making rolls and the world is quiet. We’re just doing our thing and it’s why we did this. It’s great.”

Lake Baked is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Monday and the River View Bar is open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Monday. The bar extends hours till 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, visit http://www.lake-baked.com.

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