2019 JAN FEB DOWN COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE DCR Jan.Feb.2019 web - Page 33

“ ” I want simplicity, consistency and to be good over being marketed. We do what we want without it being a show or an advertising gimmick. It’s either good or it’s not, and if it’s not, I won’t do it. —­Nick­Caton he­thinks­sounds­good­and­at­the­same­time­“what’s­practical and­ tolerable­ in­ our­ market­ without­ being­ perceived­ as strange.” Nick’s­longtime­passion­for­tasty­food­is­the­driving­essence of­the­Killian’s­dining­experience.­A­post-high-school­move­in the­1990s­to­Bozeman,­Mont.,­from­his­native­Memphis,­Tenn., prompted­him­to­start­a­career­search­from­scratch.­After­get- ting­hired­by­a­local­eatery­as­a­dishwasher,­“I­enjoyed­the­food business­right­away,”­he­said.­ At­that­establishment,­Nick­admired­his­bosses­and­learned sophisticated­ preparation­ techniques­ in­ a­ kinetic,­ hands-on method­from­culinary­school-trained­co-workers.­He­found­the kitchen­camaraderie­and­accountability­of­teamwork­appeal- ing­and­quickly­moved­up­the­ranks­to­lunch­cook­after­just­a month.­He­never­looked­back.­ “After­that,­I­had­no­intention­of­getting­out­of­the­restaurant business,”­he­said. Nick’s­experience­over­the­years­has­put­him­in­charge­of the­kitchen­at­a­hotel­restaurant,­sushi­bar,­steakhouses­and grills­throughout­the­Western­Plains.­A­former­roommate­in- troduced­him­to­Spearfish,­and­Nick,­newly­married,­settled down­in­the­town­for­good­in­2002.­The­restaurant­business­is a­Caton­family­affair:­Nick’s­wife,­Erin,­owns­Barbacoa’s­Bur- ritos­&­Wraps­in­Spearfish.­Both­chefs­are­motivated­by­their three­children,­Killian,­Scarlett­and­August.­After­managing several­local­restaurant­kitchens,­Nick­started­Killian’s­Tavern in­2012­as­a­“family-oriented­bar­and­grill”;­in­2016,­local­res- ident­Mona­Jackson­brought­her­accounting­background­and business­acumen­to­partner­with­him.­ “I­thought­Spearfish­was­a­good­place­to­open­a­business,” Mona­said,­“and­Nick­was­one­of­my­go-to­people­to­ask­what Spearfish­needs­and­how­can­I­make­a­difference.”­ With­a­common­love­for­the­area­and­a­passion­for­putting people­first,­they­aligned. “Mona­recognized­my­passion­for­Spearfish­and­this­demo- graphic,”­Nick­said.­Together,­they­renovated­the­space­and­ex- panded­the­menu­to­diversify­dietary­and­ethnic­interests.­ “It’s­a­partnership­that­works­better­for­the­restaurant,”­he said.­“We­changed­the­name­to­‘Killian’s­Food­and­Drink’­to­il- Killian’s serves many unique craft cocktails, like this Rosemary Gin Gimlet. lustrate­the­upgrade.”­ Killian’s­uniqueness­provides­the­area­with­a­warm,­old- fashioned­pub­ambience­which­is­bursting­with­flavor.­ Killian’s­décor­expresses­the­local,­western­Black­Hills­cul- ture­without­the­kitsch­of­contrived­interior­design.­ “I­don’t­want­you­to­feel­like­you’re­somewhere­else,­like L.A.,”­Nick­said.­ The­booths­are­original­to­the­50-plus-year-old­building,­as are­the­natural­rock­and­barnwood­walls.­Organic­elements such­as­a­rustic,­live-edge­wood­slab­table­enhance­the­warm, inviting­interior.­Bright­freeform­murals­(Nick­calls­them­“or- ganic­street­art”)­were­hand-painted­one­day­by­Chloe,­a­tal- ented­bartender.­The­weathered­green­highway­sign­displayed on­the­wall­used­to­point­the­way­to­town­from­Belle­Fourche back­in­the­day.­Sit­in­the­informally­named­“Diamond­Booth” (corner­booth­in­the­back),­and­you­can­read­framed­newspaper clippings­about­the­late­Black­Hills­State­University­professor Dave­Diamond,­a­Killian’s­regular­who­always­dined­at­that table.­ Nick­is­an­avid­trail­bike­rider­and­his­passion­for­the­sport crisscrosses­throughout­Killian’s­(the­restaurant­is­a­big­sup- porter­of­the­Dakota­Five-O,­an­annual­50-mile­single-track mountain­bike­event­held­in­the­Hills).­A­bike­suspended­above the­tables­is­the­first­Salsa­Spearfish­model­XC­racer,­featuring a­locally-invented­power­meter­component.­Another­bike­on display­holds­particularly­sentimental­meaning­for­Nick­—­it was­owned­by­his­good­friend,­Shawn­Funk,­who­unexpect- edly­passed­away­10­years­ago­at­a­young­age. DOWN COUNTRY ROADS 33