Inside Big Daddy's Bar and Grill is a counter made of a single log.

Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill renews Creston-Idaho cross-border tradition

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After nearly a decade sitting empty, a Porthill bar and restaurant that was once a popular destination for Creston Valley residents has reopened.

Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill is the latest enterprise operated by the Sheppard family of Porthill, Idaho. Mike and Trevelyn, sons Mike and Ploman, and their wives, Yvonne and Amanda, make Porthill Mercantile, the gas bars and parcel pickup operation a true family endeavor.

Before Sunday pub openings were allowed in B.C., bars in Porthill were a major draw for Creston-area residents. But bar and grill manager Mike Jr. says the family doesn’t view Big Daddy’s as a bar.

“We are a family friendly restaurant that serves wine and beer,” he says. “A lot of people don’t realize what a beautiful location we have, with the view of Kootenay River and the mountains to the west.”

Since opening last month, customers have flocked from Bonners Ferry to try Ploman’s popular barbecue dishes and Mike expects Creston Valley residents will be just as impressed. Currently, pork back ribs are featured on Fridays and pulled pork is on the menu each Saturday. Eventually, Ploman says, he wants a large size smoker and barbecue so that Big Daddy’s becomes the only barbecue joint for many miles around.

He works hard to get enough ribs ready for Friday night crowds, using a small smoker on the west deck. Dry rubs and barbecue sauces are both popular and have been developed over Ploman’s years of feeding friends and family at his Porthill home.

“That’s what he did every weekend anyway,” Mike laughs. “A bunch of us would gather and Ploman would be at the grill and smoker, getting ready to feed us!”

In addition to the barbecued meats, Big Daddy’s has pizzas (“We load ‘em up and make them the way we like them!”), Mexican-style dishes, sandwiches and wraps, brats and smokies, and salads available. Bottled and draft beer, wines and coolers round out the menu.

Patient and practical, the family has plans to add to Big Daddy’s within the next year, building a new full-size kitchen and expanding the deck to take advantage of the river view.

Unlike British Columbia, Idaho allows children in pubs that serve food.

“We are very family friendly and kids are welcome all the time,” Mike says.

Music is gradually being added to the mix, with a Thursday night open mike jam session scheduled and live music on other occasions. Last Friday night, a couple of musicans took turns entertaining the filled-to-the-rafters room.

And a beautiful room it is, too.

“The building had sat unused for nearly 10 years, so it pretty much had to be gutted and redone from the inside out, right down to the floor joists, some of which were sitting on bare ground,” Mike says.

Real wood floors and rustic wood tables and chairs give the place a country look, and the bar — a sawn tree log — is an attraction in itself.

Open seven days a week from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Big Daddy’s is a great addition to the area, a perfect place for Canadians and Americans to get to mix and mingle. And all in a smoke-free (well, perhaps with the exception of the tempting aromas of smoked meat) atmosphere.

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