-Dave Stalling reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – There’s a giant new rooster in town, and if you’re driving along Highway 10 just west of Missoula International Airport it’s tough to miss.
The metal sculpture was an unusual gift to Cheryl Bregen and now sits in the bed of a 1950s-era GMC pickup – inspiring the name of and marking the entrance to her new farm, market and eatery Rosterloo, which opened last month.
When Bregen first conceived of the idea, she knew she wanted to put the rooster out front.
“And I knew I wanted to use it in the name,” she said. “We came up with a lot of ideas – ‘Rusty Rooster,’ ‘Green Rooster’ … I have a dog named Loo, and thought of ‘cock-a-doodle-doo.’ I love the sound of the ‘ooo’s.’ So we went with Roosterloo.”
The name is as unique as the place.
Formerly the site of Ibey Nursery and Garden Center, at 6170 Butler Creek Road, Roosterloo includes a three-acre farm, several greenhouses and a large, open restaurant.
The menu (for now, just breakfast and lunch) is small and simple, including: a breakfast sandwich made of eggs, cheese, avocado smash, and pico de gallo sausage; various frittatas; tomato bisque; a chedder-cheese grilled sandwich on rosemary focaccia; a roasted portobello mushroom sandwich with swiss cheese, roasted red pepper mayonnaise and zesty lemon arugula on a ciabatta roll; a roasted vegetable salad, and a homemade Italian-style meatball sandwich with provolone and fresh basil on a baguette.
Prices range from $3.50 for bisque and seasonal soups, $6 for breakfasts, and $6 to $8.50 for sandwiches. Many of the meals include, or are garnished with, edible flowers including nasturtiums, bachelor buttons and marigolds.
Bregen grows the herbs, vegetables and flowers on the premises.
“I started farming about three years ago, with intentions of selling to community restaurants,” she says. “It was just me and a wheelbarrow the first few years. It was a bit daunting. But I always had in mind to open an eatery. There’s not a lot of restaurants on this side of town, except for national chains. And I’ve long had a desire to see more sustainable agriculture practices.
“I enjoy the entire process of seeding to harvest to table … and I like it out here,” she added. “I like watching the planes take off, watching the smokejumpers practice, and the storms even look different on this side of town.”
Bregen first got involved in the restaurant business working as a server while attending the University of Montana in Missoula, where she earned a degree in forensic anthropology. After working as a manager at Caffe Dolce on Brooks Street, she opened the Tagliare Delicatessen on South Higgins, in 2008, which she sold to new owners in 2014 so she could take up farming and open Roosterloo.
“What we can’t grow, we get from local producers,” Bregen says. Thus far, that includes Oxbow Cattle, Living River Farms, Doma Coffee, Le Petit Outre and the Western Montana Growers Co-op.
Roosterloo also sells plants grown in the on-site greenhouses, including fresh-cut parsley, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, bee balm, cat mint, lemon balm and tulsi. Many are unique varieties, such as tomato plants with names that include green zebra, mortgage lifter, beaverlodge slicer and martian giant slicer.
In the near future, Bregen hopes to expand the market section of her business, start serving dinners and set up a nice outdoor seating area.
“We’re getting there!” she said.
And the giant metal rooster? “We jokingly refer to it as the giant chicken,” Bregen says. “We look forward to decorating it at Christmastime. We recently had some pilots stop by to get their pictures with it. We’re hoping it might be like the giant cow (at Clearwater Junction).”
Spend time with Begren and one thing becomes clear: She’s passionate about her job.
“I love my work; I love my job,” she says. “It’s a dream come true.”
Roosterloo is open Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here for more information.