At 11 a.m., one of Coram’s beloved watering holes, the Stonefly Lounge, is filled with the savory scent of pies, fresh from the oven. It’s not what you might expect from an establishment known as a place to stop for a cheap drink and a free musical show after a day of adventuring near Glacier National Park, but that’s kind of the point.
“Our focus has always been to make it into a cool hangout spot that is accessible,” said Stacey Schnebel, who co-owns the Lounge with her husband, Seth. “We’re a really excellent live music venue, and free live music has always been our thing, but what I’ve always wanted to do here was create food for my community and my people.”
Despite claiming to not be a chef, Stacey has always offered “tasty snacks for people who drink,” but until recently those tasty snacks were more typical of bar fare: pizzas, chicken strips, giant pretzels — the usual.
Last fall, Stacey decided to branch out and do something unique, drawing inspiration from the “pie history of Glacier National Park,” which she describes as decades of old ladies making huckleberry, peach, apple, and other pies in their kitchens and bringing them to local restaurants.
“That was one of the things that enamored me to the area when I first came here in 2000,” Stacey said. “There were all these beautiful pies everywhere, but the industry has changed a lot since then and those folks aren’t doing that anymore.”
The interior of the Stonefly Lounge where the stage is located now includes a miniscule baker’s kitchen, which Stacey calls the establishment’s “savory bar bakery” that churns out between a dozen and two-dozen 5-inch scratch-made pies a day.
She began with small-batch savory pies — starting out with classics like chicken pot pie and shepherd’s pie, served in a tin pie pan, and then graduating to more experimental offerings, such as a Cubano pie, chicken cordon bleu and a white meatball pie.
“Everything is baked fresh, daily, and we want to sell out every day,” she said. “And we do.”
The savory slant fits better with the bar scene, Stacey says, and elevates the Stonefly Lounge to a lunchtime hotspot in the Bad Rock Canyon, especially in the winter months when many places close for the season. That isn’t to say there aren’t sweet offerings, too — each day, a few mini apple cinnamon and sweet potato pies are added to the lineup — but the savory pies are the staple.
“It’s high fat content, it’s totally delicious, and it’s filling after someone gets off the river or back from a hike,” Stacey said. “Plus, they help you metabolize alcohol faster, so that’s a good business strategy for a bar. We’re a savory bar bakery for adults.”
One not-so-secret ingredient to the pies’ success is the “bomb-proof” crust made of heavy butter and sour cream, which, paired with delicious fillings, leaves diners full, satisfied and happy to have shown up on time.
Over the spring and summer months, Stacey, alongside bartender/pastry chef Parisa Saniee, engineered a standard rotation of pies that have developed a devoted following. On occasion, a single person has shown up to the Lounge and bought half the day’s offering in one fell swoop.
Stacey says that she’d like to continue slowly expanding her roster of pies, including the quantity that are baked each day, which will likely mean a kitchen expansion in the not-so-distant future.
She also hopes to be able to cater to hikers or rafters swinging through the canyon on their way to an adventure.
“Pies, if you look at their history, are kind of peasant food. You put stuff in a crust and can take it with you,” she said. “A pie is the perfect river food — by lunch time it’s cooled down and you can pop it out of the tin and eat it with one hand.”
For the coming fall and winter, however, Stacey and Parisa will continue evolving their recipes and serving their patrons delicious pies, one steaming savory bite at a time.
“The most satisfying thing for me is to see nothing left in the tin when people leave,” Stacey said. “Which is always the case.”
Description: Deep-dish savory pies of a limited, rotating variety.
Price: $10 for a five-inch savory pie, $6 for a three-inch sweet or experimental pie.
Hours: Stonefly Lounge opens aT noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from October through April.
Location: 10154 U.S. Highway 2 in Coram
More information: www.stoneflylounge.com