Jackie and Dennis LaFever opened BULLWINKLE’S in February 26, 1996. They moved their operation from the Executive Inn Dining Room & Lounge where they operated an elegant and very popular restaurant and lounge that had, after opening in 1990, become famous for an innovative kitchen, attentive service, and a congenial atmosphere. The current location of Bullwinkle’s was purchased in July of 2006 from long time business owners of the Totem Café and Casino Bar, Jim and Marsha Gray. Bullwinkle’s restaurant moved to the new property in 2011.
The couple moved to West Yellowstone from historic Virginia City, Montana, where they established and operated the Virginia City Cafe in 1983, which was linked to the Pioneer Bar. The Pioneer Bar was run by Dennis’ brother Neal, from Billings, Montana. Although Dennis is an electrician by trade, he has been in the restaurant operation business ever since his brother Miles hoodwinked him to “helping out.” It seems that Miles decided, one day, to open a second restaurant and have his wife run it. Well, in the best tradition of Western Hospitality, the restaurant grew rapidly and Dennis was thrown into one of them to take up the slack. The restaurant is a well loved establishment named the Bar `N’ Annex, in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin.
It was in Wisconsin that Jackie and Dennis met. Jackie’s grandmother had a restaurant and bar between Green Bay and Milwaukee. It was named Tesker’s and drew loyal patrons from not only those two towns but from Chicago and the `North Shore’ as well. From her grandmother Jackie learned the lessons of successful management and patron satisfaction. Taking grandma’s lessons with her to Port Washington, Wisconsin, Jackie operated the Golden Goose cocktail lounge on Lake Michigan for 6 years. It appears that grandma’s hospitality lessons were well learned for there is now a national following of satisfied customers that seek out the LaFever brand of hospitality wherever it may be. It should also be apparent why there are so many bits of Green Bay Packer memorabilia in the little mountain village of West Yellowstone.
ABOUT OUR NAME
One year during his frequent unsuccessful moose hunt near `Hungry Hollow’, in the famous Alder Gulch close to Virginia City, that’s where all the gold is; Dennis, much to his amazement and the absolute disbelief of everyone in town, bagged a trophy moose.
His joy was overwhelming and he came to refer to the moose as Bullwinkle. Jackie and Dennis decided to immortalize the moose and Dennis’ astounding good luck by naming a restaurant in honor of this fine Montana specimen.