When Madisen Cross’ father Huck became ill years ago, he couldn’t eat bread or sugar and his family started making him juices and smoothies to help him feel well. A healthy diet allowed him to feel his best and he continued a naturopathic approach in addition to western medicine.
“He tried using traditional medicine and it just wasn’t working,” Cross said. “He always felt his best when he had juices and smoothies and that’s where we base our recipes.”
Huck eventually succumbed to his illness, but Cross and her husband and business partner Kyle have carried on the healthy legacy when they opened Huck’s Place about four years ago in the Stumptown Marketplace on Spokane Avenue in downtown Whitefish.
“We wanted our own storefront from the beginning,” Cross said. “We moved in there and put two menu boards up and started from there.”
After the marketplace closed, they moved into a new location last year on Central Avenue where they renovated the space to open their own storefront and artists painted an Italian-themed mural on the interior with Huck on the wall. Around the same time they relocated, they also started their own family and now have two daughters, 2-year-old Grace and 5-month-old Eloise.
Huck’s Place is centered around the family, inspired by their favorite recipes and they’ve also received construction help from her uncle.
“My uncle helped us build this out and come up with the Italian theme and then we just started adding a bunch of my family’s favorite things,” Cross said of the juice bar’s interior.
Cross carried on her father’s favorite juice and smoothie recipes at the new juice bar and restaurant where they also serve breakfast and lunch, coffee, gelato, baked goods and grab and go items.
Huck’s Special consists of coconut milk, kale, spinach, banana, pineapple, avocado and honey, and the restaurant serves several other all organic and dairy-free smoothies, all of which can be made into a smoothie bowl with fresh fruit on top.
“We don’t add any sugars and everything is plant-based,” Cross said.
To continue the food-as-medicine theme, a local cancer survivor also shared her own smoothie recipe with Huck’s called Natalie’s Survivor, which has almond milk, spinach, banana, mixed berries, flax seed, spirulina, cinnamon and almond butter.
“That’s the smoothie that she says helped her, so we make that one too and it’s a pretty popular one,” Cross said.
The refreshing juices at Huck’s are an even more concentrated form of tasty vitamins and minerals – with juices centered around roots, greens, turmeric and fresh fruit. Many customers also regularly order a ginger, lemon, cayenne and turmeric gut cleanse. The store also carries a miniature version of the gut cleanse called a mule kick shot, which has ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper in it.
Since Huck loved brewing beer, Cross added ginger beer to the menu as another ode to her father, which she makes with lemon, ginger, filtered water, vanilla bean and cane sugar. She also adds other flavors to it like habanero, strawberry rhubarb, lime and raspberry, which also make tasty cocktail mixers. Cross says the habanero variety pairs well with tequila while vodka complements the strawberry rhubarb.
Huck’s Place originally started with only smoothies and juice, but since moving into its new location on Central Avenue, manager Racheal Broom introduced a coffee bar. Coffee drinks are brewed with Italian Illy coffee beans syrups to make lattes, cappuccinos, chai, matcha and a cold brew that flows out of a Illy machine.
Cross added gelato to the menu to continue the Italian theme in the store, with a variety of flavors sourced from a distributor in Salt Lake City who imports his ingredients from Italy.
“My parents traveled to Italy together and they loved it,” Cross said. “They had gelato together and we’re trying to base the menu off some of their favorite flavors.”
But a straw or a spoon is not required for every item on the menu, breakfast items include farm fresh eggs with Farm to Market ham, bacon or sausage in a burrito or served in a bagel or a Wich Haus focaccia bread sandwich. Lunch items include paninis, soups and salads with vegetarian options.
“We just want to be a family-fun restaurant,” Cross said.
Huck’s Place is open seven days a week in the summer, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.