Hilltop restaurant remodel hits roadblock

Hilltop restaurant remodel hits roadblock

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 9:10 AM

ADA COUNTY -- A restaurant that's been around for more than 60 years is making a push to reopen.

What was originally named the Sportsman Cafe opened in 1952.

It's sits on a hill on Highway 21, and used to be a popular family restaurant for those driving through to Idaho City.

But the restaurant has hit a roadblock and now the renovations have stopped.

THE HISTORY

Since the 1950s, the restaurant has had many owners and several names.

Most recently it was called the Kodiak Grill and was featured on the TV show "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."

But it closed in 2011 and sat empty for a year.

In the fall of 2012, Tate McCullough, his brother, and another business partner bought the building.

They have a cabin in the area and missed stopping at the popular spot.

McCullough said he remembered it as a family restaurant that was loved by the community, and wants it to become that spot again.

"We just want to serve the community, this is such a cool place. It's a Boise icon, you know. We've been visiting this place for years," said McCullough.

PUSH FOR A PERMIT

But there's a major delay revolving around a beer and wine permit.

To get it, the restaurant needs 75 percent approval from the neighbors within 1,000 feet.

But this location only has two neighbors in that designated area.

"One said 'yes' right away, the other didn't respond for many months," said McCullough.

So, McCullough and his partners took the issue to Ada County commissioners, who listened to testimony from many people who supported the license, and a few who had concerns.

At a public hearing on May 8, records show that the neighbor who doesn't approve mentioned the restaurant had been closed several times over the years, and that he did not support the sale of beer and wine by the glass.

But the commissioners unanimously decided to give the restaurant the permit.

McCullough said he then learned that the neighbor appealed the decision to a district judge.

Until they're sure they'll have the permit, McCullough said the work to remodel is on hold.

"We're still trying to stay positive, this will get resolved, we will be able to make our dreams happen, but now it's on hold," said McCullough.

We tried to reach out to the neighbor against the license, but were told he has no comment.

WHAT'S NEXT

McCullough says in the meantime they have opened the convenience store attached to the building.

He said they are still making big plans for the property.

"We are talking about beautifying the grounds and making it a destination through that, we talked about anything from wildlife refuge to showing movies," said McCullough.

McCullough said hearing before the district judge won't happen until the fall.

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