Breakfast in a 123 Year Old Building!
The building that once housed a lively Dance Hall was pretty quiet on Saturday morning in September.
The lower level of the beautiful building had a less appealing look, with the words casino and cafe written on the green awning. It made me assume we could order some coffee while we played the slot machines. But as we moved across the street, we became intrigued with the window display. Besides a little neon and an old mining cart, there was a collection of artwork by Jack Ferriter, who was evidently the personal art instructor of local celebrity, Evel Knievel. Curious. This suddenly seemed like a place that needed to be experienced.
Once inside, it was like a dreamy step back in time! There may have been slot machines somewhere, but I didn't see or hear them.
The name Gamer's has nothing to do with gaming. It comes from The Gamer Family, that opened a confectionery business in 1904. Fred Gamer moved to the current location, following a fire in 1932. Inside the front room there was quite a bit of history and memorabilia in the display cases, surrounded by floral walls and lit by art deco lamps.
The Soda Fountain
We walked through the quiet front room and into the warmth of the "soda fountain". Mr. Gamer added this room in later years and it looked like little had changed since then. Charming is the best word to describe the sight, with white & pastel painted booths, stools and woodwork. But the folks who dined, so early that morning, were equally charming. There was a gentleman at the counter chatting with a retired couple in a booth. Tina, behind the counter was in extra good spirits. "I'm heading for Vegas tomorrow, for a 3-Day Country Music Festival!"
Tina, told me to feel free to go upstairs to have a peek around. What a fun little space with a low ceiling and funny wall sconces and twisty-curly coatracks connected to the iron railing.
If the place had been busier, it would have been fun to do some discrete people watching from above. I especially would have loved to observe the crowds below, back in the late 1800's when The Curtis Music Hall was in full swing. Besides wondering about the bands and dancing that happened here, I was curious about the three floors above, which once housed miners during Butte's heyday.
Don and I really wanted to order Gamer's specialty, The Pasty. (rhymes with nasty) The little meat filled pastries were once a lunchtime staple, for European immigrants working in the copper mines. Tina said they didn't have a fresh batch up yet, so Don and I split The Evel Knievel Omelet. Our eggy feast with ham, bacon, mushroom, peppers, tomato, cheese and salsa AND Twin Bridge Montana Cottage Fries, was split onto two plates... each plate could have fed another two diners! Tasty stuff! (tasty doesn't rhyme with pasty!)
...And More Stories
While we lingered over coffee, we ended up chatting with Tina and some of the customers. The couple behind us shared the news of their new twin grand babies. New Grandma was eager to get home and make quilts. New Grandpa (pictured in tweed coat & cap) got off on stories about Carl, the cafe's second owner. Carl was evidently quite a character. The man in tweed... or sort of tweed, laughed about how he and his friend who was a local judge, sometimes had to wake Carl up when they arrived for breakfast. Carl had an apartment in the building and if the cafe was dark, they knew they better go knock on his door and make sure he was alive!
Another man laughed, remembering how Carl wouldn't bother with the cash register. "He'd leave enough in it for people to pay up and make their own change." I thought, what a shame we couldn't have experienced Gamer's back when Fred made food and candy, or when Carl was inviting people to help themselves to more coffee. I was sorry we didn't get to meet Paul Cote, the current and third owner. We heard he was nice.
Good Butte Memories
Our breakfast at Gamer's was a nice way to end our less than 24-hour visit to Butte. As we got up to leave, Tina was greeting a man who looked a little worn, as if he'd worked a night shift... or possibly didn't even have a home. She waved good-by to us, then turned to hand the man some coffee, as she called him by name. I left with that image, reminding me that there still are places that feel like small-town Mayberry... even a city like Butte that has been described as "rough and tumble" and "past its prime". Don and I left with an appreciation for the rich history of so many great old buildings in Butte. But mostly we'll remember the friendly people we met inside them!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.