Pantry Restaurant Maintains Popular Tradition

newmanPantry Restaurant maintains popular tradition

Rick Langenberg

The popular tradition of quaint, outdoor garden and creek-side dining still prevails at The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls, only with a new daytime twist.

Due to the floods and bad weather that often inflicted the area for the last several summers, The Pantry restaurant now showcases an amazing cowboy, all-you-can-eat buffet-brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and no longer features evening meals on the weekends.

“It really works out better for us and for our customers,” said Ben Stephens, the personable owner of The Pantry for the last 15 years. Stephens cited problems the restaurant had with record afternoon storms and floods in the Ute Pass and road closures, making conditions tough for nighttime outdoor dining. “The weather is so much better in the mornings,” he added.

At least for now, The Pantry is taking a time-out in offering its special barbecue meals on the weekend nights during the summer in the Pantry Gardens. The new replacement, The Pantry’s “Creekside Cowboy Breakfast Buffet,” recently kicked off and has received rave reviews for the last two weekends.

The buffet offers a great breakfast/brunch get-away for families and it also helps The Pantry deal with a familiar problem: an overflow of customers who want to frequent this GMF culinary hotspot on the weekend. In the past, a trip to The Pantry on a Saturday or Sunday amounted to a regular visit for many out-of-town families. Unfortunately, the waiting list for tables would often extend to more than an hour or two during these busy times. That’s no longer the case with the addition of the new spacious Creekside Cowboy Breakfast Buffet in the Pantry Gardens.

The buffet features a smorgasbord of food items, all freshly prepared, including unique cheese grits, multi-varied eggs and omelets, bacon, sausage links, pancakes, waffles, burritos, special Southern potatoes, and many traditional breakfast specials. The Cowboy buffet also features a full bar for adults who may want to round out their breakfast offerings with a Bloody Mary, mimosa, margarita, or a glass of wine or beer.

“We have added to our offerings quite a bit and have a great display of fruit,” said Stephens.

And the cowboy buffet features a great atmosphere, with the live music of Ted Newman, a cowboy folk musician who previously played with the likes of Johnny Cash and many top country stars. He has performed at The Pantry for 10 years and has been a musical mainstay of the area for nearly two decades.

“It’s like having Hank Williams playing in your own backyard,” said Stephens, who says Newman’s music, titled, “Eclectic Antiquity,” sets the tone for the family-friendly Cowboy buffet. He will be performing on a regular basis this summer in the Gardens during the buffet times.

The Pantry outdoor gardens are a rare gem for the community, featuring comfortable tables with umbrellas, a quaint wooden bridge overlooking Fountain Creek, historic relics, bars with wood paneling, great creek-side views, and special art work that highlights the town Gazebo.

Since he took over The Pantry, Ben Stephens has tried to improve the atmosphere, but has made every attempt to maintain the culinary tradition of the restaurant. “I have just added to the menu. I didn’t want to change the food we have had for years. Everything is home-baked here,” explained Stephens.

His wife Nan agrees and says they sought to continue a revered local tradition in GMF that actually began more than 60 years ago dating back to the days of “Miss Dustin’s” home-made pancakes.

“It (The Pantry) is part of your family history. People came up here just to come to The Pantry,” said Nan Stephens. “This place has such a rich history. We wanted to do everything we could to maintain its tradition.”

As for physical improvements, Ben Stephens has greatly expanded the outdoor seating areas and continues to enhance the Pantry Gardens.

Stephens even jokes that the Pantry Gardens was launched in the wake of code complaints of an outdoor restaurant bridge by a former town official. “They said, ‘this was a condemned bridge.’ Now it is absolutely fantastic,” said Stephens, who credits the incident for initiating work on a project that has redefined the new outdoor dining experience at The Pantry.

The Pantry has strong ties to the Green Mountain Falls community. The restaurant is the main hub for local rumors (true or false), political stories and tales of grandeur, and even occasionally features GMF Mayor Lorrie Worthey serving coffee there and listening to her constituents.

“I love this restaurant and I love this town,” said The Pantry owner. Stephens is a big proponent of improving the lake and is currently assembling an all-volunteer crew to partially drain the facility to make needed enhancements. The Pantry is also known for its colorful floats for Bronc Day and often hosts special community fund-raisers.

The cost of the Creekside Cowboy Buffet is $12.99 per person for adults, with reduced rates for kids. For more information about The Pantry, call 719-684-9018.