After a day of exploring Glacier National Park, if you’re hungry for steak done right, this is the place.
Located on the border of Glacier National Park on the 1.5 million-acre Blackfeet Indian reservation, the legendary Cattle Baron Supper Club features generous cuts of perfectly prepared steaks, bison, lamb, lobster, fresh-baked bread and pies in a rustic setting.
Blackfeet citizen Bob Burns bought the bar from his parents in 1974 and later, with wife Charlene, remodeled it as a supper club that reopened on May 12, 1998. Bob and his sons logged the timber, cut and planed it in their sawmill, and designed the building using local trees and stones. In a town that swells from 200 people in winter to 10,000 in summer, the business has employed most of Babb’s residents over the years.
Blackfeet history and culture are integrated in the art, placemats, and interior decor, and the supper club is a source of pride to the family and to the Blackfeet Tribe. “When we decided to open a restaurant I knew it would never be about money for me,” says Charlene. “My goal was to tell the story of the Blackfeet people and to dispel stereotypes of Native Americans. We also wanted a legacy for our children and grandchildren.”
Charlene (known for her homemade pies and ability to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a soup pot to create exquisite concoctions) and Bob (famous for his expertise cooking steak, prime rib, and bison) went to work in the kitchen to prove who could make the best steak marinade. Armed with the recipes from their grandparents and years of cooking experience, they combined their marinades to create the Cattle Baron Supper Club secret steak sauce. The two blended recipes created a family tradition that has lasted more than 20 years.
Most of their children and all of their 36 grandchildren have worked there, says Kayla Burns, granddaughter and manager of the Cattle Baron. This year, the first of the couple’s 30 great-grandchildren started working there, too. “We all know who we are and where we come from,” says Kayla, co-manager along with Jake Burns. “We proudly tell our customers our family history and share our knowledge of the Blackfeet Tribe.”
After 20 years, Bob and Char say they are ready to retire and love every minute of watching their children and grandchildren take over the management of their dream. They thought about selling the restaurant several times, but changed their minds because of the family legacy they built, rich with hard work and good memories.
The Burns family continues the family tradition each year as the Cattle Baron opens its doors to serve exceptional food, friendly service, and stories of their ancestors.
Where to find it:
Located on the Blackfeet reservation bordering Glacier National Park, the Cattle Baron Supper Club and bar is famous for its steaks, bison, lamb, lobster, fresh-baked bread, desserts, and interior decor that integrates Blackfeet culture. Owned by Blackfeet citizens Bob and Charlene Burns, the Cattle Baron is 14 miles east of Many Glaciers: 3990 U.S. Hwy 89, Babb, Montana, MT 59411, (406) 732-4033.
What to order:
The rib-eye steak and rib-eye bison are by far the best-sellers, but the sleeper menu choice is the lamb (all basted in their special sauce): “People drive a long way for the lamb,” says Charlene.
Where to stay:
The Burns family also offers two vacation rentals located on Lower St. Mary's Lake: Single Shot 1, a “photographer's dream,” and Single Shot 2, which overlooks the Shining Mountains. Book reservations in Babb, Montana on VRBO. What to do: This year, the family opened a new hunting, fishing and trail guide business called Westwinds Outfitters. Bob's great-grandparents were outfitters in 1915; the family is carrying on the tradition today. www.westwindsoutfitters.com
Where to go:
The Blackfeet Tribe’s reservation contains abundant forestlands, fish and wildlife. More than 518 miles of streams, 180 bodies of water, including eight large lakes, are on the reservation. www.blackfeetnation.com