By: Nick Perkins

There are 5 things that Rich Logan loved more than anything else: his family, his friends, his town and, perhaps more than anything else, honestly, his cars & his bikes. Okay, there is nothing that mattered more to Rich than his family and friends…but he sure did love his toys.

Always a car and bike enthusiast, Rich Logan was a frequent at many a car/motorcycle show when he was alive. When he passed away last year, after a valiant battle against cancer, Logan left behind a grieving widow, a hurt community and some pretty awesome cars.

Logan actually gave a few of his cars to his close friend John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage. Huff and Logan were close; as close as two men could be, really. Huff even paid tribute to his friend by naming his own son Logan.

“I knew Rich Logan since about 1975,” John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage stated. “I got to be real good friends with him; he worked in the oil field like I did and he was a really good guy. He helped people. He loved cars. He got cancer a little over 2 years ago and got sick and I watched him go from ‘healthy’ to ‘dead’ in about a year.  It was very painful to watch. He was a very kind and compassionate guy. Everybody loved him. It was tough.”

It’s never easy when a loved one passes away but, after the grieving process ended (as much as it ever really could end) Huff knew that he wanted to pay tribute to his friend in another way.

“We were sitting here, trying to come up with a couple ideas and we thought to ourselves, ‘we oughta have a car show a couple times this summer,’” Huff revealed.  “Rich’s widow, Cindy came to mind and my girlfriend, Wendi said ‘Why don’t we call it the Rich Logan Memorial Car Show?’”

“That was it,” Huff continued. “We told Cindy and she started crying. She’s cried a lot. We’re gonna have not just cars, but bikes too because Rich loved his bikes.”

“This will be a very sentimental event,” Huff added.

On Saturday, June 22nd, the Yellowstone Garage will be presenting the 2nd Annual  “Rich Logan Memorial Car and Bike Show.” From 11am to 2pm or later, the community is invited to come check out some amazing cars and motorcycles, eat great food, listen to some tunes and pay respect to a man that to have known was to have loved. Rich Logan loved his town as much as he loved having a good time.

From 11am-2pm, community members will gather to celebrate the life and loves of Rich Logan. It’s a free event that is open to the community. It’s family-friendly and will feature games for children, in addition to the toys for the grownups. There will be live music, courtesy of Rogue Radio, as well as various food vendors, activities and more. A $250 ‘People’s Choice Award’ will be awarded for the best car and bike at the show, but competition will be fierce and one has to believe that Logan himself will be watching the events unfold from his big La-Z-Boy in the sky. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Vietnam Vets Legacy Group, an organization that had been important to Logan for years.

Rich Logan was a good man, nobody will say any different. Now, the community has the chance to celebrate the life (and the vehicles) of Rich Logan while, partying out in the sun and enjoying all of the best parts about The District, which just so happen to be the very same things that Logan so proudly stood for- fun, fellowship, family, community and, last but certainly not least….cars. It was always about the cars for him and now the community has the chance to spend one more car show with Rich Logan.

 

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Don’t tell them to “smile more.” The bartenders that work in The District are pretty good examples of the range of demographics that make up The District itself. It’s an eclectic group of people, all with their own stories to tell.

There’s Alex, the single mom who has been in customer service for the majority of her adult life and chooses to stay there because she knows she’s good at it.

Tessa is a transplant from Las Vegas who, despite her time in Sin City, is still surprised by some of the things she hears on any given night at the bar she works at.

Karen and Jim met and fell in love at the bar they now own and operate together

Geno has been called “Casper’s Best Bartender,” because he takes his job as seriously as a lawyer or a doctor. He isn’t there to be your friend or to wipe your bottom. His job is to serve you drinks and he does it better than almost anybody.

Each and every person that stands behind one of the many bars in The District has their own story to tell. They have their own life, their own fears, and their own worries. They have their own dreams.

Chances are, you’re not a part of them. But, if you mind your manners, follow the Golden Rule and don’t stare for too long, you’ll get some of the best service in the world.

But, whatever you do, don’t tell them to smile.

Tamara has been a bartender for a year-and-a-half. She worked at a handful of different establishments before finding herself working for Karen and Jim Kanelos at The Office Bar & Grill. The Office is more of a laid-back kind of place that caters, generally, to an established group of ‘regulars.’ But The Office is open to anybody looking for a good time and it is Tamara’s face that you usually see upon walking in.

“I’ve learned how to make tons of new drinks since I started working here,” Tamara said. “I’ve learned how to properly pour beers and I’ve heard a lot of stories. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That’s the vibe that both Karen and Jim try to create, for their patrons as well as their employees.

“I definitely love my bosses,” she stated. “Everybody is a team player here, so that’s great. I’ve gotten to know quite a few people. We have a lot of regulars that come in and I absolutely love them. Everybody is really easygoing.”

Naturally, because Tamara is an attractive young woman, she has been the recipient of a multitude of failed pick-up lines.

“I had somebody tell me my name was ‘exquisite’ yesterday,” she laughed. “But then he said my last name needed to be ‘hottie.’

Usually, the bartenders working in The District just laugh off these lines. They’re more concerned with doing their best than about hurting your feelings. Make no mistake, though. Most of the people working behind the bars of The District actually do care about the majority of their customers.

Cindy, a bartender at Frosty’s Bar & Grill has been a bartender for 14 years. She said she has never felt more “at home’ than when she started working at Frosty’s.

“The people that I work with; it’s been the same group of people, pretty consistently, for the past 3 years I’ve been here,” Cindy said. “We don’t have a lot of turnover. Everybody really trusts each other. Everybody works well together. Customers are always good. It’s a really homely, comfortable atmosphere to work in.”

Comfort is important, especially in customer service jobs. There’s no telling what could happen on any given night. The District has had its share of…interesting scenarios. Whether it was a girl impaling herself on a wrought-iron fence, two brothers fighting over the same girl or copious amounts of throw-up to be cleaned up, camaraderie is what keeps these workers sane.

That’s especially true in the case of The Gaslight Social. It could be argued that The Gaslight is the most popular bar in town, and it’s easy to see why. It definitely caters to a younger crowd and the owner of the bar, Matt Galloway, is always trying to innovate. The Gaslight features arcade video games, corn hole tournaments, volleyball games, beer pong and more. It’s more than just a place to sit and have a drink. The owner and employees of The Gaslight want to give their patrons an evening to remember, every time they walk into the bar.

“It started off completely, absolutely nuts,” remembered Tessa, one of The Gaslight’s best bartenders. “We opened right before the Eclipse and it was crazy. I don’t even think we slept more than 3-4 hours a night because we’d go to work [and stay] until 4 or 5 o’clock cleaning the bar, and then we’d have to be back here by 2pm.

But we made so much money.”

And really, that’s why these people do what they do. They may act like a therapist or a parental figure or a friend, but they’re there to make money.

Sam, another bartender from The Gaslight, said she makes more as a bartender than she did in her previous career.

“I was working about 50 hours a week [at my former job] and bringing home the same amount as I would here [at The Gaslight] 3 days a week.”

It is that desire to ‘get paid,’ that has, at least partly, contributed to the community-like atmosphere between the employees.

“We rely on each other to make money,” Tessa stated. “Behind the bar, if somebody isn’t doing well or somebody is sick and they need to go home, we all just cover each other. It’s our family, and it’s how we make our money.”

Bethanie, another Gaslight Gal, reiterated that point.

“Matt [Galloway, owner] is really supportive of his staff,” Bethanie remarked. “It’s definitely more or less like a family environment. There’s a lot of understanding if someone is sick or can’t make it- we really work together to get that shift covered.”

Usually, in the bar or restaurant business, it’s tough to rely on anybody. It’s such an ever-changing industry with extremely high turnover rates, but almost every bar in The District has been compared to a family. This is partly the owners’ doing, but it’s also because of the employees and, yes, the customers.

Shaye has been working at the Yellowstone Garage for 1 ½ years. She, too, has compared her job to a family.

“We aren’t really like a work crew here,” she stated. “We’re more like family. John [Huff, owner] treats everybody just like we’re his. We all get along very well and we all communicate with each other very well.”

Shaye continued, saying that “when it comes to the outside world, we all hang out and call each other and deal with our problems together.”

Bethanie reiterated that point as well.

“You’re in it together,” she said.

And that’s just how it is in The District. Whether it’s Frosty’s, The Office, Yellowstone Garage, The Gaslight Social or any other place in Downtown Casper, there is a sense of community. Everybody wants to see everybody else succeed, because that means Downtown Casper is succeeding.

“Being dead center in the middle of downtown and having all this competition…I don’t even want to say it’s competition at this point,” Shay stated. “We’re becoming a huge group of people who can provide for everybody and make everyone enjoy downtown a lot more than they’ve been able to.”

Most of the bars and restaurants in The District will work together. They will call each other to let them know about certain patrons, or situations that might affect the other.

Beyond that, every summer features a multitude of block parties and art walks. Business owners within The District have cultivated a sense of community between each other, and it’s the patrons of these places that have benefitted the most.

“Our block parties are some of the best parts about summer,” Sam said. “All the bars come together and create a fun time. We even have an open container license during the summer. People can just walk around and I think [the block parties] have brought a whole lot of business to the community.

 

Alex, a bartender at a burger joint-cum-bar called The Branding Iron, said that she believes all of the businesses in The District are more successful because they work together.

“Nobody wants to see anybody else fail,” she said. “We all support each other and help each other. We all know each other, pretty much. Nobody knows how hard this job is, except for somebody else who is doing the same job.”

That, perhaps, is why there’s such a camaraderie between all of the businesses in The District. They all relate to each other. They see the same things, deal with the same issues and deflect the same creeps. They all watch out for their customers as well.

“We see a lot of Tinder meets and sometimes they don’t work out so great,” Sam laughed. “I feel like we look out for the girls to make sure they’re okay.”

The bartenders in The District try to take care of their customers and of each other. Because you never know who might be sitting at the other side of the bar.

“Every single night, you hear something you’re not expecting to hear,” Tessa remarked. “I eavesdrop a hundred percent when I’m bartending. Most of the time, [people] are talking to you- as a bartender and a therapist and a friend. You hear some of the worst things that you never want to hear, and they just trust you with that as a bartender.”

That trust goes a long way, and it’s something that, ideally, would be reciprocated by the customers. Bartenders would love to trust that their patrons are actually decent people. Sometimes, however, this just isn’t the case.

“There was this one guy that did the whole ‘you’re beautiful,’ thing,” Shaye remembered. “He said ‘I know you’re on your feet all day, but you always have a place to sit when you need to.’”

Shaye, along with most of The District’s bartenders, can usually laugh off these comments. In a perfect world, however, they wouldn’t need to laugh these comments off because the comments wouldn’t be made in the first place.

Bethanie said that “sometimes it feels like we’re babysitting grown adults. Sometimes you have to, more or less, get down on their level, like a child, and explain to them the rights and wrongs of communicating with people.”

It’s not just harassment of the sexual variety that these people need to deal with, either. Nothing ruins a day or kills a mood more than when Karen comes in with her shoes and her haircut and demands to speak to the manager about something that happened 3 weeks ago.

“We’re humans,” Bethanie stated. “We’re trying to perform the best that we can. It might look like, on the opposite side of the bar, that we might not be doing much to bring you that beer right away, but in our minds, we might have 3 orders already in our head that we need to execute first.”

So suck it, Karen. They’re doing their best. This is made all the more difficult when they’re trying to appease you all the while dealing with Brent or Trent or Kent or some other guy with a douchey ‘ent’ name that thinks he’s the funniest, most charming guy in the world. We hate to break it you, gents- you’re not charming, strippers don’t actually like you and the girl serving you a drink is not your mother or your girlfriend. You’re her customer. So act accordingly.

“One thing that does bother me the most is when I’m working and men always tell me that I ‘need to smile more,’” Bethanie said. “They say I’d be much prettier if I smile or ask me what’s wrong. Listen, I’m not walking around like I’m Cinderella. It’s a 12-hour shift. If I smiled for 12 hours straight, I would look like a serial killer.”

Despite a few bad apples, however, the community within The District has been a mostly positive one. Everybody on this side of town wants to see it succeed, from business owners, to employees, all the way down to the customers. Everybody is trying to make The District something special, something unique and something beautiful.

“Thank you,” Tessa said. “Without the community, we wouldn’t be the bar that we are. Without the community, period, Matt [Galloway] wouldn’t have even had the idea to create the bar that he did, with the outside events and all the concerts.”

Without the community, the bars in The District wouldn’t exist. But it feels like we’re on the verge of something big in Downtown Casper. Everybody wants to be a part of it and everybody wants to see it succeed. So, next time you’re in a bar, throw a little encouragement towards your bartender. Say something nice-but-not-creepy. Better yet, show them your appreciation with your wallet.

Mostly, don’t tell your bartenders to smile. Give them a reason to.

 

 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse this writer, I’m going to go apologize to every bartender I’ve ever hit on.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

People living in Wyoming love to smother their food. Whether it’s with brown gravy, white gravy, turkey gravy or chili, Wyomingites love when their food is topped with some sort of viscous deliciousness. People are especially wild, and picky, about green chili. It’s one of the favorite foods of Wyomingites and don’t you dare tell them that their favorite green chili isn’t the best green chili.

Luckily, for those of us in The District, there are a plethora of green chili options available, as well as a host of delicious foods to smother said chili with. From bars and grills to diners, The District hosts some of the best green chili in the entire state.

One of the best places to get your green chili fix is The Office Bar & Grill. Now, personally, we trust Greeks more than we trust most when it comes to our favorite foods. Because of this, it should be no surprise that we love the green chili that Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office, cooks up every week.

After hearing from some of his customers that the green chili was a bit to “water-y,” Kanelos took it upon himself to take off the tie and put on the apron and start making it himself. (That was a metaphor, FYI- Jim never wears ties).

“I’ve always loved making it,” Kanelos admitted. “I always want it to be just right. I don’t measure anything out. I know my ‘this’ and I know my ‘that.’ I know exactly what I’m doing.”

He isn’t lying. When one of The Office’s green chili burgers come out, or a plate of fries that are smothered in the stuff make their presence felt, it is a symphony of the senses.

“You smell it first,” Kanelos warns. “When it comes out, you smell it and it makes you instantly hungry. It has a fantastic taste. It’s not too hot, but it’s got some kick to it.”

When Jim says “some kick,” what he means really means “curb stomp,” but in the best possible way. The green chili at The Office Bar & Grill is something that can be eaten as a side, a topping or even simply by itself. It has enough flavor and enough sustenance to fill you up on its own. But if we were you, we’d order it on top of the made-to-order fries. That’s the best way to experience the taste, history and pride of The Office Bar & Grill’s green chili.

Speaking of pride, The Branding Iron has a lot of it when it comes to the myriad of burgers it sells. You can top said burgers with eggs, peanut butter, hot sauce and more. But there is one topping that transcends all the rest and that is the green chili.

Jamie Reed, the Service Manager for the Branding Iron, said that their ‘Santa Fe’ burger is one of their top sellers.

“It’s something new,” Reed said. “When we first opened, we offered our ‘San Antonio Burger,’ which is a red chili burger. We added the ‘Santa Fe’ after that because people just kept ordering green chili on the side, so we just added the burger to our menu.”

In addition to the green chili, the ‘Santa Fe’ burger has another topping that we didn’t know we needed until we tried it- an egg. Now, we couldn’t imagine ourselves having a burger without it.

The sweetness of the egg cuts the spiciness of the green chili, and the result is a cacophony of flavors dancing on our tongues. With the ‘Santa Fe’ burger, you get breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one meal.

The only thing that goes better with green chili than an egg is, naturally, beer. At Frosty’s Bar & Grill, you can get both.

Troy Tanner is the lead cook at Frosty’s, and he makes a mean green chili that even your mother would be envious of. Frosty’s has been lovingly called “a dive bar,” but that has more to do with aesthetics than quality. For proof of this, one need only to order a plate of Frosty’s green chili fries.

“It’s freshly made,” Tanner stated. “We make it every 2-3 days and the ingredients in it are just fantastic.”

What are those ingredients, exactly? Well, we can’t spill the (chili) beans on everything, but we can confirm that Frosty’s green chili consists of pork, garlic, cumin, onion, tomato, green chilies, jalapenos, water, and more. There is a secret ingredient in their green chili that we’ve been sworn to secrecy on. If we divulge it, we’re risking death- or, even worse, never getting to eat their green chili again. Please, we begged. Take our lives, but not our green chili.

If ever we were to be cut off from Frosty’s green chili, at least we would be able to jaunt down the street to Yellowstone Garage. There, the green chili is as big a part of its popularity as the building itself.

Kitchen Manager Dustan Mark has been working at Yellowstone Garage since it opened, and he had nothing but good things to say about his job.

“I like working here because we’re in a historic building, in kind of a historic neighborhood,” Mark stated. “I feel like this was the beginning of the whole District being started. I like being on the ground-level of a cool thing that’s happening in Casper.”

Yellowstone Garage is cool. Whether it’s because of the events it puts on, the staff, the drinks or the food, Yellowstone Garage is one of the best aspects of The District. A big reason for that is its green chili.

“We do our green chili and all our soups from scratch. I don’t know if everyone does that. I hope that they do.”

Surprisingly, most of the restaurants in The District do make their green chili from scratch. In fact, out of all the places we visited, none of the restaurants or bars had frozen or stock green chili. Every place featured fresh ingredients that were lovingly prepared by cooks like Dustan.

Dustan is especially proud of the ingredients that go into Yellowstone’s green chili.

“We’ve got green chilies, jalapenos, ground cumin and more,” he stated. “When I roast my pork, I put lemons and line in there with it, so it’s kind of got a citrus kick to it.”

The citrus that comes from the pork perfectly offsets the spice that comes from the chilies and jalapenos. All of the flavors balance each other out, which makes it a delicious dish on its own. But if you’re really looking for a taste-bud overload, order their fries and have them smother ‘em with chili!

Are you hungry yet? If not, you haven’t been paying attention. For that, you will get a swift kick in the butt from Sherrie Lopez, the owner and head chef of Sherrie’s Place. But after that, she will hug you and give you a bowl of her famous green chili.

Sherrie makes her chili 4 times a week. It includes real chunks of pork and sausage and a couple other secret ingredients. There is one ingredient that could only come from Sherrie, herself, though.

“I make it homemade and I put a lot of TLC in it,” she said. “That’s the biggest secret ingredient.”

Sherrie puts a lot of TLC into all of her dishes. In fact, all of the chefs in The District put a healthy amount of love into what they do. That’s because they love what they do, they love who they do it for, and they love where they do it.

The District is home to some incredible restaurants that put out some amazing food. All of them do so with a love and appreciation for their customers. It is because of the customers that these businesses are able to thrive and, in turn, serve up the best green chili in town.

So with all of that being said, why do we like green chili? Why do we insist on smothering things with it? Why does the word ‘smothering’ make our mouths water just by saying (or writing) it?

In her trademark snarkiness, Sherrie answered our question with a question of her own.

“Who doesn’t like smothering things in green chili? It enhances the flavor.”

Dustan, meanwhile, had a more…thoughtful response.

“I think it’s like the next step up from gravy, ya know? Gravy’s good on everything. Chili’s got a little bit of a kick to it.

It’s a good condiment that you wouldn’t think is a condiment.”

Okay well, now we do! Forget the ketchup, mustard or ranch dressing. Pass the green chili, please!

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