Monday, July 30, 2007

Sitting Duck Saloon...

What happened?

On the east shore of Flathead Lake in Woods Bay is a little tavern called the "Sitting Duck Saloon". It is the Montana version of the "neighborhood bar"... small, cozy, friendly, great food and the bartender and waitresses treat you like family. One huge advantage of the Duck is its dock that will accommodate a bunch of thirsty boaters. While you are out on the lake, you can turn into Woods Bay, tie-up at the Sitting Duck and have a great Montana experience. Well... it used to be like that, but of late, the Sitting Duck - just plain sucks.

Now THAT was hard for me to say.

My wife and I have been boating over to the Duck for years. It was always a wonderful afternoon on the lake to put-in at Somers Bay and cruise down the shore and hang a left over to Woods Bay. We'd tie up at the dock, order a frozen margarita and sit outside on their multi-level deck overlooking Flathead Lake. The food was outstanding for a small restaurant; our favorite meals were the fish & chips or the prime rib on weekends. Inside, the Duck is outfitted like a hunting lodge with moose, caribou and a mountain lion hanging on the walls, a roaring fireplace (in season) – the Duck just oozes ambiance.

Quite honestly, boating over to the Sitting Duck was one of our most cherished summer routines, which we tried to do a few times every week. Sometime last year, it all began to unravel. The Duck was sold, and it appeared that the new owner was going to make a bunch of changes. Some of these "improvements" were good like a new dock addition, new TV monitors placed around the bar, and some not so good - like price increases on the menu and for drinks. But hey... that's progress, right?

I don't know the whole story behind the sequence of sad events, but the Duck began to have serious problems. First the restaurant was abruptly closed (I heard it was shut down by the food police, but I do not know if that is true), then it seemed that the staff was changing weekly. No longer having a restaurant, someone had the idea to sell hot dogs and bratwurst cooked on a grill out on the deck.

I must tell you about yesterday and (what will probably be) our LAST visit to the Duck. Until we hear that something has drastically changed, we'll not be tying up at the Duck's dock (say that fast 10 times) again any time soon.

We found an open slip around 4:00 PM and walked up to the deck to order a couple of hot dogs. "SIX DOLLARS", I complained to the teenage-looking cook, "for a hot dog"? "You do get a bag of chips with that", he countered. Ah, well that makes it a bargain, I thought, and ordered $12.00 worth of hot dogs (for those of you who play the lottery regularly, that's $12.00 for 2 hot dogs).

Without boring you with the entire sequence of blood-pressure-building events, here's the short version... The bartender (another new one) had no personality, no smiles for paying patrons and he mumbled responses such as "the margarita machine's been broke for a long time". The $6.00 hot dogs right off the grill were cold - as in not cooked and condiments came in a plastic squeeze pouch. I had to hunt down the teenage-looking chef (who was smoking at the bar) to beg for mustard and it seemed like it took ages for him to loot through the kitchen before rewarding me with 2 additional squeeze packets of yellow mustard. The bathrooms were dirty... according to my wife; there was no paper in the ladies room.

Hey, I am NOT a restaurant critic and such comments are actually outside the purpose of this blog. However, watching one of the best establishments on Flathead Lake literally melt down in one season is truly a sad event. The Duck was one of our favorite haunts all year round. The restaurant used to close for a few weeks in winter so the staff could take vacation and we always drove down for a great meal when they reopened. Anytime we have out-of-town visitors, the Duck was always one of the places we took them.

This blog is about NW Montana's Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake and all the wonderful things to see and experience when you visit. The Sitting Duck used to be one of those places we liked to recommend, and I have done just that in this blog and on our website. Unfortunately, the Duck has been deleted from my to-do list. Hey, if all you want is cold beer, cozy decor and a great view of Flathead Lake... do the Sitting Duck. That's about all it has going for it these days.

BTW, I do not know the owners - they may be wonderful people, I have no axe to grind and mean no one harm. I guess I'm just so disappointed about the Duck's demise - and getting burned with cold hot dogs... I just had to tell somebody. If you hear that the Duck’s been sold again, or something has changed, please leave us a comment. I miss the Sitting Duck already.


Melissa Blank said...

OH NO!! My husband lived in Whitefish, and when he took me there to show me around, he went on and on about the Sitting Duck. We wanted to eat there, but I was pregnant at the time and couldn't enjoy a single meal while we were there (which was a huge disappointment to him after we got the check at the Paddle and Axe!) We were planning on going back next summer when our son was old enough to enjoy it, and finally getting to eat at the Duck - now there's no way! Thanks for the warning!
I love your posts, btw. I've only been to Glacier once, but that was enough. My husband reads you religiously and checks the park on the webcams everyday and longs for the day when he can come back, as a resident, not just a "touron."

Britt and Craig said...

I am an employee at the Sitting Duck in Woods Bay and want to let you all know that we are under new manamgement. I am happy to say that we have made several improvements, including a new menu and fully-operating kitchen. We hope to make this summer one of the best and would love to have you come by for some great service and fun! In May, the Singing Sons of Beaches will be entertaining guests every Sunday from 2-4pm. We hope to change some ill-favored opinions of the Duck- starting with yours! -Brittany 406-837-DUCK