HELENA — With Shellie's Country Cafe moving from its long-standing location on Highway 12 to its new location on Cedar Street near Interstate 15, an opportunity arose for Colleen Nickerson, her family, and the Red Barn Café.
Nickerson said she spent several years working in restaurants in many different facets, including owning a restaurant that she closed in early 2018. Now, with a new opportunity, Nickerson said she's taking lessons learned from the entirety of her career into the Red Barn Café.
“I've been in the restaurant business a long time. So, I've learned a lot along the way, probably a little bit from every place I've worked from kitchen to serving to back of the house," said Nickerson. "This opportunity kind of fell in our family's lap and so we decided to run with it. “
Red Barn will be serving up diner-style favorites from omelets and biscuits and gravy to homemade meat-loaf and open-faced turkey sandwiches, but it's the company Nickerson is serving up those dishes with that makes this place special in her eyes.
"My daughter, she's been a server a long time, front of the house, and she is joining us, and then my son, Alex. He has been the kitchen manager at a couple locations here in town. So, he's running the back of the house. And then my son-in-law, Jakota is the newest one. But he's doing fabulous," said Nickerson with a small grin. "He does everything else we don't want to do."
Like most small businesses in their infancy, the Red Barn Café is not immune to bumps in the road. After holding their 'soft' opening a week prior, equipment malfunctions forced Nickerson to close down the restaurant for repairs. Now, with most of the bumps flattened, Nickerson and her staff are excited to welcome people in to enjoy their food.
"It's a great location being off Highway 12. So we're excited about that, and then just all of us as a family, pitching in together and enjoying what we do and just keeps us close," said Nickerson. "We just want to keep moving forward and be part of the community, continue to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner."