It’s hard to miss the Burger Box when driving through East Glacier Park.
The restaurant, although modest in size, packs a colorful punch with an exterior of yellow, purple, pink and green. Inside, Eldon Foote mans the grill, cooking up traditional burgers and fries along with Burger Box specialties such as fry bread and Indian tacos.
It’s a mom-and-pop shop, with a simple mission: to augment the town’s limited lunchtime landscape with an option for quick, affordable midday fare. East Glacier offers just a handful of restaurants, catering primarily to the wave of summer tourists and a local population of about 360.
“A few years ago my parents had talked about [starting] a food truck,” said Jessi Edward, 29, of East Glacier. “It doesn’t seem like there are very many options in this town for lunch — there really never has been.”
Last winter, the family purchased a trailer and set to work developing recipes. For Eldon and Robin Foote and their daughter Jessi Edward, it’s a dream come true.
“It’s just been really rewarding to see the people that return — and it’s been rewarding to have locals that support us on a weekly basis,” Edward said. “I think it says something when the locals eat local.”
A popular offering is the family’s fry bread, served traditionally plain or topped with cinnamon sugar, or deliciously indulgent honey butter. Edward said it took some time to hone the perfect recipe for dough that rose properly and retained its quintessential fluffy texture throughout the day. It also needed to be dense enough to “soak up all the good stuff,” like chili or butter.
“I tried about 10 different recipes,” she said. “I wanted it to cook golden and crispy on the outside but have that really nice fluffy, soft texture on the inside.”
Frybread is a Native American staple born out of a tragic historic event — the “Long Walk of the Navajo” — where the United States forcibly marched more than 10,000 Native Americans from their land in Arizona to eastern New Mexico. The government issued canned goods and limited baking ingredients including white flour, sugar and lard, according to the Smithsonian. The Native Americans used the latter three items to make frybread. Different tribes have their owns methods and recipes are often passed down through generations. Some even consider these doughy discs to be an emblem of Native American culture and a reminder of their ability to survive.
In addition to frybread itself, Burger Box also serves Indian tacos made with frybread shells, and frybread burgers — more modern twists on old favorites.
And tourists and locals alike are taking note.
“We are doing so much more business than we did last year,” she said. “I’m making a heck of a lot more fry bread.”
What she’s most proud of, however, is the teamwork behind her family’s business venture.
“It’s just been fun to see my family make a dream come true and work on something together and see it be successful,” Edward said. “It’s been rewarding.”
Reporter Mackenzie Reiss can be reached at (406) 758-4433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.