THE EATBEAT: Snowmobilers make tracks to TRF’s Black Cat Sports Bar and Grill

The Black Cat Sports Bar and Grill tends to fill up around noon on a weekday. It is, in fact, sort of a hot spot around here.

At lunchtime, working people lean quietly over their food and eat seriously. In the evenings, the scene is more relaxed, as people enjoy drinks and dinners in this vast building that includes a large party room. It’s a place with knotty pine walls fairly well-covered with pictures showing the history of Arctic Cat — the largest employer in the city.

The pictures show scenes from the original Arctic Cat. In recent years, Arctic Cat has had a rebirth in Thief River Falls, continuing with snowmobiles and also all-terrain vehicles.

We looked over the menu that is strong on salads, soup and sandwiches. The dinner menu features walleye, sirloin, shrimp, chicken and ribs. There’s also a hamburger steak dinner, Slim’s chimi and homemade pizza.

We found the chicken enchilada soup quite tasty. It was thick —- almost too thick for me — but pleasing to a friend, Donna Gillig (DG). There also was a cream of chicken with wild rice soup.

In the interest of research, Sue Huus (SH) ordered a basic burger ($7.49) that comes on a Kaiser roll. I ordered a Reuben sandwich ($7.99), which I found especially tasty. The sandwiches are served with choice of fries or salad.

Imagination runs wild in the burger selections. For example, an EMT burger includes bacon, cheese, special sauce and a fried egg. Some say a burger with an egg is great, but SH and DG and I decided we didn’t want that adventure.

The Black Cat is easy to spot on state Highway 32 as you enter Thief River Falls. It is located near Arctic Cat, and employees point down the highway to where the new Sanford Medical Center is in the planning stages.

The Black Cat is one of a dozen or more places to eat in this city with an interesting variety of restaurants. (On other visits to Thief River Falls, I have enjoyed eating at the Evergreen Eating Emporium, with an upscale ambience and a place where people tend to go for special occasions.)

The Black Cat was opened 15 years ago by Joey Hallstrom, who says he got his inspiration from Kevin Costner’s Diamond Lil’s Bar and Grill in Deadwood, S.D.

At first, Hallstrom was afraid it was a disaster. “The snow never melted in the spring of 1997,” said Hallstrom, who works at Arctic Cat and leases the business to Al Grzadzielewski, who also is employed by the snowmobile manufacturer. (Anne Marie Haugen is service manager.)

Things have gone better with each passing year, though, with the Black Cat turning into a gathering place for snowmobiles in a city where they are built.
Ski-Doo offers free avalanche awareness seminars for all riders