By: Nick Perkins

She didn’t know what she was doing. Claire Marlow will be the first person to say that when she purchased Goedickes Custom Framing and Art Supply in 2014, she had no idea what the “plan” was.

“I moved here from Seattle in 2012 and I worked as a project manager at a local company and I just wasn’t super stoked on the work,” Marlow stated. “I couldn’t find a job that fit my skill-set that I moved here with. I was just randomly looking for businesses for sale, not even to buy one, just to kind of see what was going on in the business world and then there was a listing for an art supply store in Wyoming.”

As luck (or God, or the universe, or whomever) would have it, that art supply store was located in Casper, which is where Marlow lived. She met with the owner at the time and he showed her around the shop and its adjoining space that acted more like storage than anything at the time. If this was a movie, the actress who played Marlow (probably a Bryce Dallas Howard or Jessica Chastain-type) would envision almost immediately what this shop-cum-gallery could be. But, life is not a movie and the reality was- this place needed a lot of work and Marlow didn’t even know where to begin.

“I met with the owner and walked in and it was old and dirty and messy and disorganized.” She paused, mid-sentence, to let the memory wash over her. Then, she closed her eyes, smiled, continued: “…and it had so much potential.”

It was that potential that sealed the deal for Marlow. She didn’t have a plan. She didn’t have assurance. She didn’t have any idea about how much work it would take to turn this old, messy building into what it is today. She didn’t have any of that. What she had, was potential.

That was all she needed.

Marlow could have rented out the extra space next to Goedickes, she supposed. She could have just focused on the art supply and framing shop, but she knew that this big, empty, incredible space could be more, could do more, could offer more.

“I didn’t know I was going to do an art gallery when we started the remodel; I just wanted to clean this space out,” Marlow confessed. “I think I just kind of evolved into it. I wanted it to be taken seriously, but I also knew that I didn’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to create a space for art to be shown in Casper.”

She knew that she didn’t know what she was doing. It was that attitude, that layer of humility that kept Marlow grounded. She didn’t make any grandiose pledges about what her space could be. She just wanted to offer what it was, and she hoped the community would be receptive.

Marlow purchased Goedickes in early 2014, and by October of that same year she was ready to open Scarlow’s Gallery.

“My opening night, for sure, was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Marlow said. “We had a huge turnout. It wasn’t the Art Walk. It was just an opening. Everyone came to support me. I had 20+ artists that barely knew me, and they decided to share and put their work up. It just really felt good to have the community come in and I got some thumbs up from some locals that kind of know what’s going on [in the art scene].”

When Marlow opened Scarlow’s Gallery in October of 2014, she wanted it to be a space where artists could show their work. That’s all. She didn’t have a grand vision of transforming the art scene in Casper. She wasn’t planning to turn The District into a destination. She didn’t intend to change this city.

That part came later.

As Marlow and Co. (great band name, ps) were busy with their gallery, Holly Turner was hard at work, too.  She was in the final stages of turning her own vision, ART 321, into a reality. Like Marlow, Turner saw so much potential in Downtown Casper, and if nobody else was going to realize that potential, she would.

Turner heard what Marlow was doing with Goedickes, and approached her one day without a plan, but with a dream.

According to Claire (great book title, ps), as Turner was building what ART 321 would become, she was also eager to start an ‘art walk.’

“We just kept talking about it and talking about it,” Marlow said. “We pulled a few big artists in town and we pulled a designer in. I think there were, like, 5 of us at that initial meeting and none of them believed in it. They said ‘No, it’s never going to work.’ So, we said, ‘Alright, you’re out.’”

Turner and Marlow were only interested in people that believed in them, believed in this town and believed in art. Anything less than that was unacceptable.

Luckily, they found two people who were just as enthusiastic about what dreams may come, regarding Downtown Casper. Those two people were Tony and Amy Elmore, two employees of ART 321 who had the same vision that Turner and Marlow did. The four of them collaborated to create the very first Art Walk in Downtown Casper and it was very much an example of guerilla marketing.

“The first year, it was the four of us,” Marlow stated. “We didn’t know what to expect. I knocked on every door downtown with information about what we were trying to do. Some people didn’t get it, but it turned out great.”

The Art Walk has since turned into a real highlight of the summer in Downtown Casper, and it’s all because one, and then two, and then four people saw the potential for what could be. Marlow has taken on more of an advisory role in recent years, and she said that the Elmores have really taken the proverbial ball and ran with it.

“The second year, people kinda knew about it and it got a little bigger,” Marlow said. “It was a ton of work the first 2 years. The third year, I had a kid and didn’t have as much time to work on it, and Tony and Amy really stepped in and that’s when they made the website and then this last year, they’ve pretty much taken over the management of it.”

The four of them didn’t necessarily have any experience when it came to creating a community-wide event. They just had passion, work ethic and the belief that art is an important aspect to any community.

“I think the art culture for any place is extremely necessary to have a well-balanced city or town or state,” Marlow admitted. “I think it’s what brings community together. You can really, kind of, have a safe place with art that allows any person, whether they know anything about art or not, to just enjoy something about life and then inspire something. It triggers something in your brain. Art is so important just for brain development in general. It’s just a happy space and it’s just creative.”

And really, that’s all that Marlow wanted when she opened Scarlow’s Gallery- a happy space that inspires creativity.

There are events almost every week in The District and beyond, but when Claire Marlow decided to take a chance and buy Goedickes, there was very little activity downtown.

“When I bought Goedickes, it was still quiet down here,” Marlow remembered. “There wasn’t much going on, but I was talking to everybody. I was talking to the artists, I was talking to the people who buy art and have it framed, I was talking to the people who sell art supplies, but none of these people were talking to each other.”

“I kinda thought that I know all these people; what can I do to connect them and so the Art Walk was part of that vision.”

That vision has taken a few years to be realized and it’s still not quite where Marlow, Turner and the Elmore’s want it. But it’s close.

My vision for the gallery is to have phenomenal artists because we’re such a small little blip in the world,” Marlow said. “Nobody thinks Casper can have that.”

If there is one thing that one should never do, it’s tell Claire Marlow “no” or “you can’t” or “this won’t work.” Yes, she can and it will. Scarlow’s Gallery, Goedickes Art Supply and Framing and the Art Walk are all proof of that. Whether it was luck, timing or something even bigger, Downtown Casper was on the verge of something big, and Marlow knew it.

“I think the timing is right,” Marlow agreed. “I think there’s a younger population in Casper, they’re educated, some of them have some money, they want a little more trendy things, they want a little more culture. The older generation is fantastic, and they have allowed us to be here and do this, but I think the younger blood, as with any town, craves a little bit more culture. I think people wanted it. Once the ball started rolling, people could see that we could do that here.”

The Art Walk has given way to a multitude of community-driven events downtown and it has turned The District into something that everybody can be proud of.

But that was never Marlow’s plan. She never had a plan.  She still doesn’t, not really. When asked what drove her to create Scarlow’s Gallery and what is currently driving her to continue it, she just shrugged.

“My focus is to bring something to Casper that isn’t here yet, in the world of culture and art.”

She has done that. More than once. And she will continue to do that, despite not having a plan. She just continues to roll with the metaphorical punches.

“I’m constantly trying to figure out what I can add, what can I take away to keep these doors open,” Marlow said. “They’ve been open for 65 years- I don’t want the doors to close on my watch.”

If the future is the result of the present and the past, then Marlow shouldn’t have to worry about keeping the doors open. Scarlow’s has continued to provide artists with a canvas in which to paint their story. The Art Walk has continued to be the premier event every week in Casper. Marlow, herself, will continue to innovate, inspire and dare to dream.

And, even if it wasn’t hers, maybe that was the plan all along.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

First, there was the Nic Fest. Then, there was Rock the Block. The Art Walk followed shortly thereafter. All of these events were designed to bring the community together and to offer them something ‘outside of the norm.’ They were created to show that there was more to Downtown Casper than just a couple of movie theaters. These events have succeeded, and The District has never been so thriving. Still, though, there will always be room for more, for different. That is the beauty of The District- there is always an opportunity to help it grow.

The creators of the Third Thursday Downtown Crawl recognized this. Then, they got to work.

Jim McBride has been in the food service industry for decades. Whether it was in restaurants or via distribution, McBride is no stranger to the hard work it requires to maintain something that is successful. This is why he was approached by Frontier Brewing Company owner, Shawn Houck, about creating something to drive even more traffic to Downtown Casper.

“Shawn Houck called me one day and said, ‘Can we just sit down, I want to kick something about,’” McBride remembered.

He continued, saying that Shawn asked, ‘What can we do to drive more traffic to this area, both the Yellowstone District and the Downtown community?’

Taking cues from the enormously successful events that had already taken place downtown, Houck and McBride conceived an idea that would involve not just art galleries, or bars, or restaurants, but literally almost every single business that makes up The District and beyond!

From bars and restaurants like the Gaslight Social and The Office Bar & Grill, to retailers like Coopers Makeup & Clothing and the Crazy Pedaler, everybody, it seems, was willing to contribute time, effort and, in some-but-not-all-cases, money.

“This is an idea that we came up with and it didn’t cost a ton of money,” McBride stated. “It’s mostly the effort thing that we have to put forward, more than anything. It’s been very successful.”

Success doesn’t come without a name, however, and McBride and Houck knew they needed something catchy. Some people like to think outside of the box when crafting a name. McBride and Houck knew they didn’t have to. This event would take place on the third Thursday of every month, so that’s what they decided to call it- ‘Third Thursday.’ They would call it the ‘Third Thursday Downtown Crawl,’ and they would be very deliberate in maintaining that this was not just a “pub crawl,” but something that involves all of the downtown businesses.

Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office Bar and Grill, believes that Third Thursday is just the latest attempt to keep community members from having to drive to another state for ‘culture.’

“You get so many people that go to Boulder, Denver’s 16th Street- you go to all these other cities that are a little bit bigger than us and they get to experience this restaurant, this bar, etc.,” Kanelos stated. “Now, they get to finally do that here. Somebody has live music, somebody has games, somebody has a pool table, somebody has something for everyone to do. I think that’s what people are wanting down here. Besides the bars and restaurants, there are a lot of independent retailers that are down here doing some neat stuff and that’s another neat thing about Third Thursday.”

“We didn’t make it a pub crawl for a reason,” McBride interjected.

In addition to the entertainment, food, drinks, sales and culture that Third Thursday offers every month, McBride and Houck knew they needed something a little more, to differentiate themselves from events such at the Art Walk or Rock the Block. This is why they decided to involve prize baskets.

Yes, community members get prizes simply for having fun!

The Third Thursday Downtown Crawl offers 3 prize baskets every month- Gold, Silver and Bronze. Winners of said baskets are chosen at the “host venue” of the month, towards the end of the evening. Certain stops along the way are required to have been visited and stamped, which then makes the individual eligible to be entered into the drawing. The drawing takes place towards the end of the night, around 7:30pm and the more destinations one has stamped, the more of a chance they have to win.

While this may seem like just a way to differentiate itself from other downtown events, Third Thursday developed this idea as a way to include businesses who may not be open during the “crawling” portion of the evening.

“We’ve got people that aren’t even part of the walk that are participating with the baskets,” McBride stated.

“Everybody kind of contributes what they want into each of the baskets,” he continued. “Last month, the gold basket had $680 worth of gift cards, the silver was over $500 and the bronze basket was about $375. You just go around and you get a stamp and the more stamps you get, the more you’re going to qualify. If you have enough stamps to get into the gold basket, you’re gonna have 3 chances to win. We draw the gold winner first, and then the gold basket gets dumped into the silver, which then gets dumped into the bronze basket.”

As if the community needed any more of a reason to hang out downtown, almost $1500 worth of prizes/gift cards should erase any future trepidation.

Kanelos is perhaps the business owner who has embraced this concept the most. From online advertising, to in-house marketing, The Office has to be the frontrunner for “most active participant,” if such awards were given out. The reason Kanelos and his team are so active is because they are so excited about the prospect!

“What we’re seeing now is new for everybody downtown,” Kanelos said. “Summer, you would expect, would be a little slower but we’re going to be busier because you can bar hop. Because of that availability, ‘hey, I can park here and visit here for a snack, listen to some music here, eat dinner there;’ it really helps out all of us. We’re in an area where we’re all so close to each other, people can walk and enjoy themselves. It just benefits all of us.”

And that seems to be the key theme with every event that takes place in The District and beyond- “it just benefits all of us.”

Perhaps the coolest thing about the recent renaissance of Downtown Casper, besides the fact that the community has a plethora of activities each week, is the fact that most of the businesses downtown are working together to give this town something special. Everybody is working together. Matt Galloway from The Gaslight Social is promoting Urban Bottle. 1890 Screen and Stich is directing people towards the Yellowstone Garage. Everybody is working together, hand-in-hand, to see The District, as a whole, succeed.

“It benefits everybody,” McBride reinforced. “It’s a wonderful way to promote your menu, you advertise within. It just benefits all of us. By sticking together and helping each other out with this- it’s a no-fail system.”

That no-fail system has proven to be a success, thus far. Some months are better than others, McBride admitted, and there is a learning curve to find out what works and what doesn’t. He challenged participating businesses to “up their game” in terms of promoting the event each month.

“If everybody that is a participating member could get 5 people to do the crawl, it’d be twice as busy as it is right now,” McBride lamented.

Unlike the Art Walk, the Third Thursday Downtown Crawl takes places all year, so there are many opportunities to experience everything that The District and beyond has to offer. The event lasts from 4pm-8:30 pm and the community is encouraged to “start where you want; end up where you’re having the most fun!”

The next Third Thursday Downtown Crawl takes place on June 21. For a full list of participating businesses, visit https://www.facebook.com/thirdthursdaycasper/

  

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By: Nick Perkins

The District is home to many incredible restaurants, shops and venues. But, as with most towns of our size, it’s the bars that bring in the most people and we are lucky to have a handful of the best ones in Casper, all within walking distance of each other. The Gaslight Social, C85 Wonder Bar, The Office and Frosty’s Bar & Grill are all unique and they all offer something special to anyone who steps foot inside their respective establishments. From the staff, to the entertainment, to the beers and cocktails, each of these four bars present something different and represent something different to the community.

Perhaps the best thing about each of these bars is the fact that they all have an equally unique and diverse food menu for when patrons need to sop up the alcohol with some carbs. Each establishment boasts a full menu of burgers, steaks, tacos, chicken wings and more. The chefs and cooks at these bars are truly Jacks of All Trades and masters of many. So, being the curious and hangry website that we are, and because food is bae, we decided to ask each bar what their signature dish was. They all had one. They were all consumed. They were all delicious.

The Gaslight Social

Subscribing to their name, the signature dish of The Gaslight Social is something that is encouraged to be shared with friends. According to Head Cook, Chance Yingling, nachos are the signature dish of The Gaslight Social.

“Nothing about these nachos is average,” Yingling boasted. “Everything is made in house; fresh corn tortillas, house made queso, all of our meats are seasoned with their own special seasonings, fresh hand-cut vegetables- everything about them is delicious.”

Plating and presentation are important to any dish, even one served within the confines of a bar/arcade. Luckily, Yingling makes sure that each dish coming out of his kitchen is Instagram worthy. But looks mean nothing if it doesn’t taste good. These nachos do. One bite will make you forget all about your beer, your date, your problems because, for that one moment, all that matters is nachos.

“I don’t think anyone does them quite like us in town,” Yingling continued. “The house made says it all, really. Everything is special. You’re not going to find queso like this anywhere in town. I don’t think anyone hand fries their tortilla chips like we do. We sell more nachos than probably anything else. It’s a great social food.”

It makes sense, really, that the signature dish of a place called The Gaslight Social would be the most social food on the planet. But, if you order an entire plate for yourself, we will not judge you. Still, it’s encouraging that everything about The Gaslight Social is designed for people to engage with each other. Whether it’s a game of Mario Kart in the arcade, beer pong or even the food- The Gaslight Social wants you to be, well, social.

C85 Wonder Bar

Steak. It is the foundation of any Wyoming diet and if you don’t like it then get the hell out. (Just kidding, all are welcome here- even our annoying vegan friends). There are few places in town that prepare a really good, Wyoming-worthy steak. There are even fewer places in The District. The good news is, we don’t need very many places, because we have The Wonder Bar. A place that was formerly known for its hot wings and something called The Tower of Taste (don’t ask…it was a heart attack waiting to happen) can now boast that they quite possibly serve up the best steaks in town and that’s why, according to Kitchen Manager Kayla Page, a steak is the signature dish of The Wonder Bar.

“This is a Wyoming Legacy New York Steak that we get locally here in Casper,” Page stated. “It’s a dry-aged steak that we dry for 28 days. We also put it in a sous-vide machine to tenderize it for 4-6 hours, which makes a tremendous difference. It’s really mouth-watering, whether you get it anywhere from medium to well done; it’s still very tender.”

If that sounds delicious, then just wait until you actually try it. It melts like buttah. Because Mom told us never to skimp on veggies, the steak is served with any number of sides, including mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts, which you would think, “ew,” but each bite compliments each other perfectly.

There are cooks and then there are artists. A cook will fry some eggs or throw a steak on the grill and send it out. Kayla Page, indeed the whole kitchen crew at The Wonder Bar are artists. They genuinely care about each dish they send out. Page will look out over the patrons as they enjoy their meals, taking note of the facial expressions and body language of each. She cares about doing a good job and when it comes to their signature dish, the Wonder Bar does a very, very good job.

The Office

In a District full of new ventures, it’s nice to have a place like The Office holding down the proverbial fort. The Office has, in some shape or another, been in existence for decades. Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office, said that his dad started a restaurant before Jim was even born and that the restaurant business has been in the family blood for years. Kanelos and his wife, Karen, are proud of that history and Jim is proud of his Greek heritage as well, which is why the gyro is the signature dish of The Office.

“I’d say the gyro sandwich is our signature dish,” Kanelos stated. “It’s got gyro meat of course (chicken or beef). Then it’s got the tzatziki sauce, pita bread, lettuce, tomato, we put a little feta in there, onion and it all makes for a delicious sandwich.”

It does make for a delicious sandwich, but what if The District wants a Greek/Asian infusion? The Office has us covered.

“We’ve also incorporated, since we’ve reopened, a gyro egg roll. It’s our gyro sandwich, wrapped in a wonton and deep fried and, again, the thing that highlights it the most is the tzatziki sauce.”

Melissa Bowlds is the Head Chef at The Office, and she said that the greatest part about working there, besides the occasional free gyro, is the family-like atmosphere.

“It’s refreshing to come to a place that is so generational. I love it. I love learning new things and I hope that I’m doing them proud.”

Judging by the immense flavor that the gyro puts out, we think she is definitely doing them proud. Jim and Karen should be proud of their chef, of their sandwich and of their entire establishment. It is truly a family business and any time somebody enters the bar, they are treated like family. Like any good family, they want to make sure visitors leave well-fed. The gyro sandwich is a guaranteed way to leave well-fed, but you will also feel well-loved.

“We pride ourselves on being hands on owners,” Kanelos said. “One of us is always present. We like to interact with our guests and we strive to give the best service and the best experience we can.”

When one visits The Office, they do indeed get the best service, the best experience and the best gyro in town.

Frosty’s Bar & Grill

Sometimes, one does not want the frills of a steak or sushi or anything that our annoying vegan friends are offering. Sometimes, one just wants a burger and one of the best burgers in town comes from Frosty’s Bar & Grill.

It is called “The Wyoming Burger,” and it encompasses everything that is great about this state. It is simple but effective and it gets the job done. One of the cooks at Frosty’s, Joe Perea, said that this burger is by far their highest seller and it all has to do with their ingredients, their cooking process and their price.

Perea said The Wyoming Burger is “a bacon cheeseburger with an onion ring, along with our Sidewinder Fries- they’re delicious; they’re like really big curly fries. It’s got our signature BBQ Sauce, and it’s probably our biggest seller.”

A good burger is a transcendental experience. It can take you places that you never thought you would go. A good burger for a good price is even better. And, according to Perea, eating that burger inside the walls of Frosty’s is an incredible experience.

“It’s good food, cheap beer and a fun environment,” Perea stated. “This isn’t a super busy bar. It’s not super loud. There are no dance floors or pool tables, so you actually get to connect with people. You don’t see people on their phones; they’re actually talking to each other.”

Chances are, what most people at Frosty’s are talking about between themselves, is how good the burgers are.

There we have it. Four signature dishes from four bars in The District. Just because those are the signature dishes, that does not mean any of these establishments are a one-trick pony. Each bar has an incredible menu with food that will blow your minds and melt your hearts. Be sure to visit any and all of these locations and let us (and them!) know what your favorite food has been.

**Authors Footnote- Whenst coming up with the idea for this article, I did not intend for it to procure me actual examples of said signature dishes. That being said, every restaurant offered their dish to me and I took them up on it, because duh. My Journalism professor would shake his finger at me for taking what could be considered to be “a bribe.” Was it unethical? Possibly. But was it delicious? Absolutely. I regret nothing.

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