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Flavors Moment: New beginnings at Evergreen Cafe

The Hoefles evergreen cafe sf.jpg
Stella Fong
Cyd, Mitch and Stu Hoefle pose in the Evergreen Café in Billings. After selling the café Mitch and Stu will continue to brew kombucha, while Cyd will focus on running and writing for Raised in the West Magazine.

Change is the constant these days. In midtown Billings, inside the Ace Hardware store, the Evergreen Café has new owners.

Stu and Cyd Hoefle will be keeping their business, Big Sky Kombucha but have sold the sandwich and charcuterie portion of their business they opened a year ago to Andrew and Ashley Lauckner.

"We are continuing on with the fresh charcuterie and the delicious sandwiches," Ashley Lauckner said. "We’ll be looking to offer more types of sandwiches like hot sandwiches. We’re also interested in offering breakfast items."

Lauckner says it was the right time to take on the challenge of running the cafe.

"My husband, Andrew, and I saw our time with our kids slipping by and he was in career that took him away from us pretty often, so this opportunity became available and we thought it would be a wonderful family for all of us," she said.

Ashley Lauckner evergreen cafe sf.jpg
Stella Fong
Yellowstone Public Radio
Ashley Lauckner and her husband Andrew are the new owners of the Evergreen Café in midtown Billings.

Lauckner plans to include their 8-year-old son, Jayden, and 10-year-old daughter, Emma, in the new adventure.

For the Lauckners taking over the already established business is a good opportunity. Andrew managed a restaurant as a high schooler in Nashua and worked at a bar in college, but Ashley says she's "completely new in the restaurant business."

"It is something that has always interested me but it had been a little bit intimidating," she said.

For now Big Sky Kombucha will be made and offered at Evergreen Café. Assistant Brewer Mitch Hoefle says they'll have eight different varieties on tap every day.

He and his father, Stu, are "just experimenting with flavors," Mitch said.

And those experiments are bringing on new kombucha options — a lightly spiced pineapple-jalapeno combination Hoefle calls Pine-a-Peno; and Epic Berry, mixing raspberry and cherry.

The new innovations include some ingredients found locally.

"We’re getting the chokecherry from Laurel and then we are also doing watermelon-strawberry-mint and we’re locally sourcing the mint," Hoefle said.

Mitch Hoefle says the plans for Big Sky Kombucha are to grow the business and "see where we can grow it." His wife, Cyd, has a clearer vision of the future as she prioritizes her responsibilities.

"We started three businesses at the same time. We’d purchased Raised in the West Magazine and we hoped to do the kombucha brewery and at the same time the café got itself in there," she said.

Now that the café is sold, "we're going to expand on the magazine and play with grandkids and visit our daughters and float the river, hike, and fish," she said.

Mitch's father, Stu, says there's a lot he'll miss at Evergreen Café

"We’ve been so embraced by the community," he said. "It’s really become a community for us so that’s the thing that we will miss the most is friends. Laughing."

Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine through her cooking classes and wine seminars as well as through her contributions to Yellowstone Valley Woman, and Last Best News and The Last Best Plates blogs. Her first book, Historic Restaurants of Billings hit the shelves in November of 2015 with Billings Food available in the summer of 2016. After receiving her Certified Wine Professional certification from the Culinary Institute of America with the assistance of a Robert Parker Scholarship for continuing studies, she has taught the Wine Studies programs for Montana State University Billings Wine and Food Festival since 2008. She has instructed on the West Coast for cooking schools such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s Cellars, and Gelsons, and in Billings, at the Billings Depot, Copper Colander, Wellness Center, the YMCA and the YWCA. Locally she has collaborated with Raghavan Iyer and Christy Rost in teaching classes.