With a menu so good it should be a crime, the Outlaw Diner has opened its doors on Nucleus Avenue in downtown Columbia Falls.
With a unique and varied menu, and new specials almost daily, owners Alan and Nikki Bond say they hope their new diner will provide the people of Columbia Falls with an exciting and affordable new option when it comes to dining out.
“We try to have unique items on the menu. We want to either have things you can’t get anywhere else or you can’t get it the way we make it,” Alan said. “I tried my hardest to keep the prices as low as possible so this can be a fun place to bring the whole family to eat. I would rather make $100 of 20 people than $100 off 10 people.”
Located at 420 Nucleus Ave., the Outlaw Diner sits in the former location of the Teakettle Café, and before that, it was the Whistle Stop. Already the owners of the Stageline Pizza Franchise in Whitefish, the Bonds decided to take a chance on the Outlaw location to open a place they could shape from the ground up and call their own.
“We had been to the Teakettle a few times and then we heard that is was shutting down. We saw a listing for the space on Craigslist and we started from there,” Nikki said.
“It scared me in a way that everything that was in this space before us has failed, but we plan to be here for a long time,” Alan added.
The menu for the Outlaw Diner includes a number of recipes that Alan has perfected over the years, having spent the majority of his life working with food. Alan said his first café job came when he was 9 years old. He would spend the morning stocking shelves at a shoe store before washing dishes at the diner down the street to earn his lunch. He eventually worked his way up to cook, where he began developing his own recipes. After working in the produce and meat department of a grocery store for 12 years, Alan found his way back to the kitchen.
“First, I was tired of being hot in the kitchen and then I was cold in the meat freezer,” he laughed. “There is always a cook job open and that was always my fallback. I would cook and develop my own recipes and I would also cook at home. Food has always been a big part of my life.”
After securing the location in November, the Bonds set to work putting in new flooring, new paint, new lighting, new plumbing, new electrical and more.
“There really wasn’t anything we didn’t touch, clean or paint,” Nikki said.
As for the menu, the Outlaw Diner offers a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes, including several kinds of cheesy scrambles, biscuits and gravy, burgers, gyros, salads and much more.
As for the unique name, Alan said they struggled at first to come up with a name, but then decided to go with on of their nicknames. According to Alan, he and Nikki have a lot of friends in the area, but no blood relatives. Many of their friends think of them as family and jokingly say that if the Bond family is not their in-laws, they must be their out-laws. And so the Bonds joke, you don’t have to be an outlaw to eat at their diner, just don’t be the in-laws.
The diner is currently open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. seven days a week, but Alan says those hours may change during the summer months.
“I would like to apply for and get a beer and wine license and then be open nights as well,” he said. “Until then, we are also thinking about doing a steak and/or a fish night once a week. We will have to see.”