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Kate’s Cattleman’s Family Diner…

Posted by on July 20, 2014



Kate posing with Florence. There’s some of that “Grandma Art” on the wall.

MEET KATE, OWNER OF KATE’S CATTLEMAN’S FAMILY DINER: This gal is charming and one of the most interesting people I’ve met so far on our Journey. Here’s how we met. We decided to take a drive this morning and stop for breakfast in Riggins, population 410. Not a Walmart in sight!  We saw a little place called Kate’s on the side of the road…it looked homey and as if the food might be home cooked so we stopped. We were greeted by Kate, the owner and cook. Her little cafe is tiny…probably seats about 25 diners and it’s decorated in “early Grandma” and local memorabilia. We felt at home immediately…as if we’d been invited to her home for a meal made from scratch. We had a traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs, but it was special because the toast was homemade sourdough right from the oven and the jam was also made on site from locally grown raspberries. The coffee was fresh and our cups never got less than half-empty before they were re-filled without even a request. The meal was good…just as if we’d eaten at home. Before we got our check, we were offered fresh homemade berry cobbler…a choice of raspberry, huckleberry or blueberry. A la mode, of course. Who ever heard of having dessert after breakfast? Who cares, we did. It was wonderful. As we were getting ready to depart, I asked Kate if she’d owned the place forever. “Not really,” she said. “Until a few years ago, I was a professional fly fishing guide here in town.” What? As you can see from her picture, Kate doesn’t look like what you’d expect a professional fishing guide to look like!


Inside Kate’s Cattleman’s Family Diner. The atmosphere was very “homey.”

HERE’S HER STORY: Kate’s parents decided early on that one day she would  be a professional musician…a concert pianist to be precise. Her parents provided twice-weekly lessons, and for applying herself to her musical studies Kate was rewarded with fishing trips with her grandpa. She loved those outings! She began fishing at age five and as her musical prowess grew, so did her love of fishing. In order to further her musical studies, Kate attended the Julliard School, located in New York City. It’s of course the premier performing arts conservatory in the United States, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading music schools, with instruction provided in dance, drama and music. She eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Music, no small accomplishment for a country girl from Idaho. However, much to her parents’ chagrin, her true passion was being in the outdoors and in particular fishing in the streams and rivers of her native state. So, rather than pursuing a career in music, she became a professional fishing guide, giving instruction and guiding folks from all around the world to Idaho’s best fishing spots. She became something of a legend in the area and even fly-fished in Chile and New Zealand before caring for her aging mother required her presence at home. So at that point, she purchased the diner and the rest is history. Her 92 year old mother gets up, dresses herself and walks a block to the diner every morning, where she “oversees the operation” from a table by the window. She’s long-since “forgiven” Kate for her choice of professions…in fact she purchased a sign prominently hung on a wall in the diner. It states:  “Fishing fixes everything.”


The cafe is tiny…I’m guessing it seats about 25 customers. I’ll be Kate’s on a first name basis with most of them. She makes you feel like family while you’re there.

The diner is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. Kate gets to work at 4 am sharp every day of the week, to get things started and make dough for the bread and pastry she serves. She opens the doors promptly at 5 am to accommodates the fishermen who flock to this area from all over the world to fish in the fertile streams and rivers here. In the Fall, she feeds the hunters, too. They hunt deer, elk, black bear and cougar. She told me the deer, elk and bear meat is tasty (yep, even the bear) but that nobody eats cougar meat…not even the vultures. Interesting.

“So what’s the trick to learning about fly-fishing?” I asked. Her response: “Just get an inexpensive rod and reel, take a short lesson on casting and get out there. Enjoy yourself. You’ll catch fish from day one. Don’t be concerned about ‘how you look.’ Don’t try to be Robert Redford in A River Runs Through It!” So there you have it. And that’s Kate, a truly interesting American. I’m so glad we met!



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