Stanley Baking CO. & Cafe located in Stanley, Idaho

Eating, Reading, and Drinking in Stanley, Idaho

The self-serve water dispenser is the first thing I notice at the Stanley Baking CO. & Cafe. Having just cycled nine miles on Highway 75 from Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, the free water is a welcome sight. The restaurant, like all of Stanley, Idaho, does not have a bike rack. However, I’m not concerned about my bike being stolen. Maybe it’s the Tibetan prayer flags flapping in the breeze beside the Bakery and subduing my anxiety. Or it’s the looming Sawtooth Mountains that are always watching and keep the bike thieves at bay.


The inside of the restaurant does not have the usual dead animal motif. In fact, I couldn’t find any fur or scales on the wall. The only thing dying on the wall are pictures of snowy Sawtooth Mountains and an aging Dali Lama. The Sawtooths in the pictures are covered in old winter snow that hangs on throughout the summer. Now summer snow peaks are as rare as the returning salmon. Like the rivers that need the Fish and Game fish hatcheries to help maintain a semblance of a healthy stream, the mountains will need the Forest Service to haul up snow making equipment to keep the peaks looking majestic.


While waiting for my omelet, I notice the aprons strung across the kitchen. The aprons remind me of the recent MaryJanesFarm magazine and the words of Jeannie Pierce: “Seeing a woman wear an apron lets you know she loves to create. Her creations may be pies or paintings or pottery, but she also produces an aura of comfort, ease, and curiosity. You just naturally think, ‘What is she making?” The cooks in the kitchen created a delicious omelet made with feta, cheddar, and tomato.


After breakfast, I follow the dirt road from the Stanley Baking Co. & Cafe towards the mountains. The road becomes steep and bumpy leading up to a plateau, and the view from the top is worth the leg burn. The view is so amazing that some sort of human structure had to be built. Instead of a large house, a meditation chapel was erected, open to weekly church services and private special events. Next to the chapel, there’s a park. I choose the swing set over the chapel. I’d like to meet god swinging through the air, pretending that I’m a teenage sparrow rather than listening to a man dressed as a politician speaking god’s will.

Riding down the hill from the park, I pick up speed quickly. In a blink, I might cruise through the town of Stanley and end up back on Highway 75. I dash madly down the hill past the Bakery, then apply the brakes and turn left at the stop sign because the library is a great place to hang out.

The library keeps unusual hours. Luckily, today the library is open with two chairs unoccupied. With the library being so small, they wisely chose to fill the space with books instead of couches or large sofa type chairs. Sometimes when I’m at other libraries and the book I want is not available, I think, “Maybe if there weren’t so many chairs there would be room for the book I asked about!” The library has a small amount of magazines, but once again the librarian was thinking about space. Instead of filling up precious room with People or Vogue, there are copies of magazines like the National Geographic and Smithsonian. I pick up a magazine and read about people celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I decide it’s time for an afternoon cocktail.


There are two bars close to the library: The Rod-N-Gun Saloon and The Kasino Club. The Kasino Club has open mic on Thursday nights and it happens to be smoke free. The Rod-N-Gun Saloon is not smoke free but opens at 2PM. I’ve been a fan of the Rod-N-Gun for a number of years. When I got my first poem published, Johnny Ray (the owner) let me recite it on stage. Back then, along with two of Stanley’s former mayors, Johnny Ray used to be in a cover band that played on the weekends.

At 2PM nothing’s happening. Johnny Ray and his wife are trying to talk me into buying tickets to see the comedian, Jason Resler, who’s appeared on Comedy Central and will be appearing at the Rod-N-Gun tonight. I’d go to the show, but I don’t feel comfortable riding my bicycle at night while sharing the highway with deer and drunk drivers.


I order a cranvodka and listen to Jane’s Addiction on the jukebox. Part of the ceiling is covered in women’s panties. I can’t find a good quote about panties in MaryJanesFarm magazine. If panties had a pocket on the front, they could act as aprons.


Here’s another quote by Jeannie Pierce from MaryJanesFarm magazine, edited to fit the context of the panties at the Rod-N-Gun Saloon: “With my panties, I carry snap peas, peppers, and cherry tomatoes after picking. I wipe my hands while canning and baking. I store tissues for my granddaughter’s occasional runny nose. My panties even give me a place to park my thimble and quilting thread. They make me feel like being busy with my hands.” I get my hands busy by taking the straw out of my cranvodka. Now I have to bring my drink to my lips. My afternoon cocktail gets me through $1 worth of Jane’s Addiction songs. I decide it’s time to go because trying to focus on riding between the white line and gravel edge of the road for nine miles can be a challenge sober much less buzzed.


9 responses to “Stanley Baking CO. & Cafe located in Stanley, Idaho

  1. My grandparents owned the Rod and Gun club. I remember growing up, spending my summers running up and down main street. These pictures bring back a few memories

    • Hi who were your grandparents?

      • Glen and Neil Brewer. Warren Brewer was my uncle and Jerry was my dad. The air port on the hill was built by my dad and uncle, and a few friends. My oldest sister Barbara spent more time their than I did. I spent several summers, working around the Rod and Gun Club. Pat Brewer, my cousin, at one time had a candy shop, right behind the bar. It eventually burnt down. I remember the friday and saturday nights when the minors and logger would come to the bar and get drunk.

        That seems like just yesterday.

        Bill Brewer

  2. My father was Cassanova Jack, I only met twice and Johnny Ray is my uncle whom I’ve never met, please send me any information or stories you may have. I also have younger siblings who also did nopt know our father Jack, any information would be greatley appriciated.

  3. Davaleen, my days at the Rod and Gun Club were spent in a chair listening or dancing to the band. I never really had a long personal conversation with Johny Ray. From a customers perspective Johny Ray is the most talented bartender I have ever seen. He wears a cordless head phone mic and sings while pouring. He always has a smile, laughs, and seems to handle stress well. He gives off the impression that he loves his job and the tourists of Stanley!

  4. Glen and Neil Brewer. My dad was Jerry, my uncle was Warren. My grandparents built the rod and gun club. My dad and uncle built the airport, on top of the hill. I spent many a summer playing in the creek behind the lodge across the street. They sold it once, but had to take it back over. They lived in Challis for a while as well. I spent two summers working for the forest service in Challis.

  5. Pingback: Eating Vegetarian in Stanley, Idaho | Earthworm Envy

  6. Stanley, Idaho seems like a lovely place. I found out about it reading the weather page of the U S A Today newspaper, Stanley almost always has the lowest temperature in the country, even in the middle of the Summer, it’s in the 30s there, amazing. One question, Why is it that people are always talking about drinking and carousing instead of talking about what a beautiful place Stanley, Idaho is? Great pictures of the scenery anyway.

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