SEELEY LAKE — An estimated 96% of restaurant operators experienced supply delays or shortages in 2021, according to the National Restaurant Association. That, along with inflation and labor challenges, has caused roughly 80,000 restaurants to temporarily or permanently close since the start of the pandemic.
These are stats that directly impact your favorite hometown restaurants and go-to travel stops.
In Seeley Lake, the restaurant scene welcomes droves of tourists throughout the summer months, but right now many of those restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open due to labor challenges. The Filling Station told MTN News they hope to reopen on the weekends, but they don’t have the staff to do it just yet. Stageline Pizza once boasted of operating seven days a week. Now, they’re down to five days.
Just down the road, the story is different for Lindey’s, Seeley Lake's longtime steakhouse. Lindey’s isn’t only fully operational, it’s now open additional nights. The secret to withstanding the pandemic might just be hidden in Lindey’s.
“All of my employees have been with me for a minimum of eight years,” said owner and operator Mike Lindemer.
At Lindey’s, employees are like family. Oftentimes, they are family.
“My boy Shane, he's the cook, he's the bartender, he's the host. My daughter Megan, who is the oldest, works during the evenings as a waitress,” said Lindemer.
His wife Jenny does the books and waitresses. His youngest, Blake, cooks for Lindey’s Bayburgers seven days a week.
“That’s the whole family,” said Lindemer.
A stack of photo albums waiting beneath the bar for visitors, Mike and Shane reminisced on Lindey’s past, the pictures brining back memories of Lewis "Lindey" Lindemer, Mike’s dad, and the guy who started it all.
“In 1958, my dad took out a $5,000 loan, rented a basement in an alley, there was a bar upstairs, and he started with Lindey’s Alley and Minneapolis/St. Paul area.”
On a hunting trip to Seeley decades ago, Lindey fell in love with the Treasure State. Hoping one of his five sons would expand the family business to Montana, he purchased the land that would eventually become this cedar-sided building overlooking a frozen Seeley Lake.
The middle son, Mike took the reins, met a Montana girl, and the rest is history.
“I've been able to raise my family here and I couldn't ask for anything better,” said Lindemer.
Lindey’s approach to dining withstands the test of time and a pandemic. It doesn't require bells and whistles to do so.
“By land, by sea, by air, we serve steak, steak, and steak,” joked Lindemer.
Still, the pandemic brought new challenges to this storied steakhouse like takeout and limited capacity on busy summer days.
“A $30 steak is kind of hard to do a to-go order.”
Like everybody else in town, Lindey’s also lost employees.
According to Lindemer, “We don't have a work pool here that's available.”
If you did want to work in Seeley Lake, a quick Google search finds virtually zero rentals available at the moment.
“That’s going to be the hardest challenge.”
A family-filled staff made Lindey’s, and now it’s what’s saving Lindey’s. “The whole family is working, and we are making it work,” said Lindemer.