The Teton mountain range, which runs 40 miles north to south in western Wyoming, divides two socioeconomic worlds. On the east side of the range are communities such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., the vacation hideaway for celebrities and millionaires. On the west side is rural Idaho, home to working-class, blue-collar workers, ranchers and farmers.
Basecamp c-store and its Rations restaurant in Wilson, Wyo.—a small town at the base of the Tetons—aims to serve both demographics, along with tourists visiting Grand Teton National Park. This is a bit of a balancing act.
“We have a customer base that ... has the money to spend—they’ll come in and they’ll buy a $100 bottle of Caymus wine off the shelf,” says Brian Laughlin, Rations’ chef and a business partner of Jimmy Fraser, general manager of Basecamp. “And we also have these customers who commute over here to work because the pay rate is way higher, but they can’t necessarily afford to eat at the restaurants in Jackson Hole.”
For Laughlin, it meant designing a foodservice offer with made-from-scratch, Southern-inspired comfort food for both customers, with grab-and-go and eat-in options. “You can get a burger and fries for under $10, and we’re the only place in Jackson Hole that you can do that,” says Laughlin. Higher-priced items include a mortadella sandwich and a winter salad with goat cheese and honey-thyme vinaigrette. Everyone is happy to fill up with Sloshies, a local frozen alcohol slushie in flavors such as spicy cucumber margarita.
“You can get a burger and fries for under $10, and we’re the only place in Jackson Hole that you can do that.”
A communal table offers a place to break bread and build community. “I’ll look over and there’s this couple … who are really wealthy and they’re chatting it up with these concrete workers,” says Laughlin. “Those construction workers, they feel comfortable here ... and it’s kind of been amazing how that’s come to play.”