Swiftcurrent Restaurant

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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby llholmes1948 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:14 pm

pitamakan wrote:Yep, the Montana drinking age was 19 the years I worked in the park. I'd come from a state where the age was 21, and so Glacier gave me my first taste of legal alcohol ... or rather, the string of bars in Bad Rock Canyon did. Pretty exotic places, then and now!


Yes those trips to Moose's Saloon in Kalispell were great, especially with the numerous stops at the bars on the way back. For a time we also used to go to the bar at the golf course in West Glacier until the bartender turned mean and drove us all out.

I think in my last year at Glacier (when things lightened up) whenever someone was driving to Waterton we would put in requests for Lethbridge Pilsner, Great West or some other Canadian beers whose names I have forgotten. I think there was a duty assessed at the border on a case of Canadian beer of about $1.44.

Montana changed the drinking age several times I believe. From 21 to 18 in 1972. Then to 19 in the late 1970s and then back to 21.

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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby Deb1741 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:16 am

llholmes1948 wrote:Montana changed the drinking age several times I believe. From 21 to 18 in 1972. Then to 19 in the late 1970s and then back to 21.
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My senior year in high school (76/77) I was able to drink as the drinking age was 18. I was 19 when they changed the drinking age to 19 so it had to be 1978. And I had just turned 21 when they changed the drinking age to 21 so that had to be 1980. I didn't turn 18 until February of my senior year but most of my friend's bdays were in the late summer/early fall so we always had alcohol available for our weekend activities. I remember the summer between my junior and senior year where we had alcohol at the summer drive-in movies. Our biggest triumph though was when we were able to talk someone that was 21 into driving over to North Dakota (35 miles) to buy a bottle of Everclear which you couldn't buy here in Montana because of the high alcohol %. I found out the hard way not to light a match up to the neck of an empty bottle of everclear :arrow: :lol: :roll:
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby Hockey Ref » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:23 pm

llholmes1948 wrote:
Hockey Ref wrote: Also, I believe GPI has a strict drug policy these days. That wasn't the case way back when.


A strict drug policy WAS the case at Lake McDonald in the early 1970s so it must have depended on the individual hotel managers. Drug possession and alcohol possession in the employee dorms was forbidden and was strictly enforced.

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I don't recall what the legal drinking age was in Montana in 1973, although several others have said it was 18 or 19 (I was 19 at the time). Regardless, if they'd fired everyone who was drinking in the dorms or smoking pot at MGH, there wouldn't have been enough people left to run the place or to put on the almost nightly entertainment shows that the employees produced for the guests, for no extra pay (most were music and theater majors). As far as I can remember, though, no one on the management team was actively trying to root out such rule breakers. The biggest hassle I ever got from the hotel manager was about the length of my hair when I first arrived at the hotel. And I never once saw him in either of the employee dorms.
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby Hockey Ref » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:26 pm

pitamakan wrote:
Hockey Ref wrote:I don't recall anyone getting fired from Many Glacier Hotel in 1973, although it's been 39 years, so I'm sure I might have forgotten something. Back then, nearly all MGH employees were U.S. college students. Today, I believe GPI hires many people from other nations. Not that that has anything to do with the quality of the people. Also, I believe GPI has a strict drug policy these days. That wasn't the case way back when.

I was the dining room manager at Lake McDonald in 1981, and I had to fire one person that summer (he showed up for work late and intoxicated more than once). In general, I thought I had a great crew ... though almost none of them had food service experience, and by the time everyone was settled into their roles the summer was already starting to wind down. By August we were usually trying to talk people *out* of quitting, because we'd be short-staffed, and getting a replacement that late in the season who knew what he was doing was nearly impossible.

The biggest problem back then was heavy pressure from GPI upper management to keep costs down. We had almost-impossible targets for labor costs, food costs, and so on ... and as the manager I would have gotten fired if I didn't meet them. Both service quality and food quality suffered as a result, but GPI knew the hotels would sell out regardless, so they didn't seem too concerned.

As the manager, I was the only dining room person on salary, and consequently I ended up working almost every meal. I never put in so many hours in my life, or worked so hard ... but I held things together and was the first dining room manager in several years not to get fired. My waitstaff, as underpaid as they were, actually made more money than I did, especially when I looked at it on a per-hour basis. Given what they had to work with, I was actually pretty proud of them.

I'd had more than enough of the dining room by the end of that summer, and the following year I came back as head bellman. Best job in the park, and part of me wishes I could still do that today. :)

The dining room servers and bellmen made the most money at MGH because they got tips. Maids did, too, but not as much. The rest of us got zilch. But working there definitely wasn't about the money!
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby llholmes1948 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:09 pm

Hockey Ref wrote:I don't recall what the legal drinking age was in Montana in 1973, although several others have said it was 18 or 19 (I was 19 at the time).


The drinking age was changed to 18 in the summer of 1972 (something like July 1st or July 31st as I recall). I believe it was changed to 19 in the late 1970s (and later back to 21). That change in 1972 may have been why things got looser after that. As you know a great many of the hotel employees were college students under 21 and prior to the change in the drinking age to 18 in mid-summer of 1972, they could not legally possess alcohol. I wasn't around in 1973 to see how the enforcement, or lack thereof, went that year.

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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby pitamakan » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:42 pm

This got me curious enough to check Wikipedia, which claims that Montana's drinking age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1972; raised to 19 in 1979; and then raised to 21 in 1987. That corresponds to my rather vague memories of it all. (I moved to Bozeman after my last Glacier summer in 1983, and I know that for several years thereafter the local bars were still full of college-age people.)

Hockey Ref wrote:But working there definitely wasn't about the money!


Indeed! The way GPI often treated its employees, it's a wonder any of us stuck around ... the fact that so many of us did is a testament to the power of Glacier.
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby llholmes1948 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:45 pm

pitamakan wrote:Indeed! The way GPI often treated its employees, it's a wonder any of us stuck around ... the fact that so many of us did is a testament to the power of Glacier.


Aside from being told to shave off my mustache and get a haircut, I never felt I was treated too badly by GPI. I got along well with the hotel managers at Lake McDonald, kept a low profile, and carefully avoided contact with certain management people in East Glacier whom I had been warned by more experienced employees not to trust.

I always felt bad for the kitchen staff, such as the dishwashers, who were paid very poorly, worked hard and didn't interact with the public. Not sure if I would have stuck around in a job like that. At least the bartending job was laid back. You got to talk with the public all day long about hiking, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and bears and got tips. Nothing wrong with that!

But if I had been the dining room manager, I would have felt seriously put upon by the company.

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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby pitamakan » Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:45 am

llholmes1948 wrote:Aside from being told to shave off my mustache and get a haircut, I never felt I was treated too badly by GPI. I got along well with the hotel managers at Lake McDonald, kept a low profile, and carefully avoided contact with certain management people in East Glacier whom I had been warned by more experienced employees not to trust.

I always felt bad for the kitchen staff, such as the dishwashers, who were paid very poorly, worked hard and didn't interact with the public. Not sure if I would have stuck around in a job like that. At least the bartending job was laid back. You got to talk with the public all day long about hiking, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and bears and got tips. Nothing wrong with that!

But if I had been the dining room manager, I would have felt seriously put upon by the company.

Lyman

The first couple of years I was there, I didn't feel too mistreated, either ... but as I got to know more and more about the place and its upper management, my thoughts definitely changed.

And I was there at what was a relatively difficult time for the concession -- the last three years of Hummel ownership, and the first three years of Greyhound ownership. (Hummel was someone I got along with on a personal level -- he had a cabin on Lake McDonald, and spent much of the summer there -- though I disagreed with a lot of what he did.) By the late 70s, Hummel was definitely losing interest in the place, and he'd cut back in a lot of areas, perhaps to make the operation seem a little more financially viable to potential purchasers. And the first years of Greyhound management of GPI were very difficult.
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby Jay w » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:06 am

We had a couple of pizzas at Swiftcurrent, which were, well, pizzas, but I have to correct the direction this thread took. In the past, GPI seemed to hire a lot of foreigners and it seemed many employees did not return year after year. The reason I bring up foreign employees is that I got the feeling that a number who were serving food didn't really want to be there.

I got the feeling this year that employees are returning, and our waiters were quite good. These guys wanted to be there (as if the tips were good) and they obviously liked hiking. We tried a burger (the egg one) which was quite good, and the chicken blt which was not quite as good, but still tasty. In comparison to Two Sister burgers, Two Sister wins the burger contest, but their fries are not as good as the Swiftcurrent ones and the price is about $4 more. I also heard a number of positive comments about the food at Swiftcurrent. YMMV.

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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby Seth » Sat Aug 16, 2014 10:34 am

The pizza at Swiftcurrent was definitely better this year than last year, but the rest of the food was really lousy - especially breakfast.
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Re: Swiftcurrent Restaurant

Postby BCD » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:55 am

2 wks ago Sunday. Swiftcurrent area was packed-no room to park, folks everywhere. Except the Swiftcurrent restaurant at high noon. It was mysef, and an empty eatery as I munched on a fairly good Italian sausage pizza. Waiter was great!
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