Angela Brandt Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
RUDYARD Judy Webie had a dream. The Hingham resident longed to run a restaurant. At the start of the month, she opened We Bie Dining (pronounced we be dining) in Rudyard. It was no easy task. She had to relocate from Wisconsin to accomplish the fantasy come true. Webie and her husband, carpenter Randy Webie, discussed moving to the Treasure State 12 years ago, but she pooh-poohed the idea because she thought snakes ran rampant throughout the state. He had visited the state once and yearned to return. Randy Webie mentioned the concept again three years ago, while watching a television program on Montana. She said she began to do some Internet research to find “there’s rattlesnake here, but not what you’d think.” Judy Webie said she was down for a “midlife adventure.” The couple and their two teenage boys packed their goods and trekked west. “I moved here blindfolded,” she said of her gaining a part-time job and a place to live online. Two years later, Webie’s cafe is celebrating it’s grand opening this weekend. “Basically, this is my dream, my job and my life,” she said while serving up food at the cafe Thursday afternoon. Webie is a one-woman show. She cooks, cleans and is the waitress. The restaurant will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. until 2 p. m. Included in the festivities are meal specials, and for the kids, a placemat-drawing contest, the winner of which will be chosen on Sunday and awarded a free dinner and shake. With one dream fulfilled, she now has a loftier vision to return Rudyard to its past glory. Webie thought of this after visiting the Rudyard Depot Museum and viewing artifacts of the wee town’s history. The cafe building itself has a long story. Over the decades, it has been a bar, a drug store and a dry goods store. “This town can be up there again,” she said. The community’s sign along U. S. Highway 2 says the town is “rip snorting & raring for business,” and Webie hopes to make this a fact. The quaint town, which has a few claims to fame the museum on the Montana Dinosaur Trail and the sign, which also proclaims a population of “nice people” and “one old sore head.” The grump was voted on by the town’s people. In a combination of the two quirks, the “Oldest Sore Head” is now the dinosaur museum’s centerpiece, a 70-million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur. The cafe also has a sandwich named the “sore head special,” which is a hamburger with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and dressing. Dinners on the menu are all $7.50 or less. “The prices are low because all I want is enough to support me later on and also so the seniors and kids can afford it,” Webie said. “I know it’s not a gold mine, but I can see potential here. I’m not thinking I am going to get rich and go on cruises or anything.” It’s homestyle cooking and not the boxed microwaveable kind. The fare includes pork roast and turkey smothered in gravy. The cafe’s daily special on Thursday was grilled ham and cheese with onion rings. We Bie Dining’s hours are Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. until 7:30 p. m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Originally, the cafe was only going to be open until 2 p.m. but “hungry people encouraged me to serve until 7 p.m.,” she said. The restaurant also serves meals in the senior center, which is right next door to We Bie Dining. Activities director for the senior center Barb Domire said she is “very happy” with the new menu and cook/waitress/ busperson. “The homemade soup is my favorite,” Domire said Thursday, when the soup du jour was chicken noodle. While playing cards with Domire and a few other friends in the senior center, Martha Jurenka said she is “well satisfied” with the grub and the service. “We’ve had all kinds of goodies,” said Jurenka, who dines at the center daily. During the about monthlong switch between the previous managers of the restaurant, the Fosters, who ran the cafe for two years, and Webie, Lynn Jurenka supplied the senior center with home cooking. The center serves an average of 20 to 25 seniors a day. It’s not only an important place for elders to get sustenance but also for socializing by the single seniors in town. Retired farmer Allen Twedt walks to the cafe and center about three times a week. After indulging in his cheesy potatoes and ham Thursday, he reported, “It was excellent.” “Meat and potatoes that’s a farmer’s kind of food the kind us guys are used to,” he added with a smile. Another goings-on in Rudyard is the renovation of a stone-adorned building just a few storefronts down from the cafe along the town’s main drag. The site will be used as a vintage automobile museum thanks to the purchase of the building by a German man earlier this year. Erected in 1947 and used as an implement dealership for Minneapolis Molene for 45 years, the building housed a store that sold farm equipment. Some of the products are on display at the Rudyard Depot Museum, which has a collection of old-time vehicles housed in various buildings and garages along with its artifacts from homesteads in north-central Montana and railroad artifacts. The town’s residents are revamping the building as close to the original design as possible with renovations and coats of paint.