In any small to mid-size American town there are always establishments that residents reflect upon with fond memories.
It might be the kitchen located in the back of a convenience store, or the local diner that serves up meals you could normally only find from your mother or grandmother on a weekend morning. And these locations always bring back memories from one’s childhood.
For many in Idaho Falls, this location is Smitty’s Pancake and Steak House. With the down-home feel of a local diner, local paintings dotting the walls, and elaborate, yet homely, decor, it provides a different experience from national chains.
Smitty’s specializes in typical Americana breakfast options, such as pancakes, waffles, and omelets, and offers several lunch and dinner options.
Partially for these reasons, Smitty’s received national recognition.
At the nomination of U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, Smitty’s was named April’s Small Business of the Month by the United States Congress.
“Known for their exceptional service and quality food in a welcoming environment, Smitty’s Pancake and Steak House has been a staple in Idaho Falls for decades,” Risch said in a news release. “So, with great pleasure, I extend my congratulations to all of the Smitty’s Pancake and Steak House employees on their recognition as Small Business of the Month.”
Risch nominated Smitty’s for this recognition on the Senate floor. His office confirmed that the award is a nationwide recognition by Congress.
Established in 1963, Smitty’s Idaho Falls location was taken over by Leo and Cleo Werner in 1971. The business has been in their family since with the Werner’s granddaughters Katrina Lott and Amanda Rosenberg taking over control of the business. Lott joined the business in 1991 with Rosenberg coming on board in 2012.
Lott and Rosenberg continue to operate Smitty’s, with Lott tending to day-to-day operations of the facility and Rosenberg dealing with bookkeeping.
The congressional award was a tremendous accomplishment in the eyes of the sisters, who were proud to continue their family’s legacy.
“We’re honored and grateful for the opportunity and to be recognized,” Lott said. “It’s amazing, because there aren’t many small, family-owned business around anymore. Everything is being taken over by chains. For us to be recognized, it’s a privilege.”
“It’s been a big deal,” she said. “We’ve been here for years, so we’re like a landmark. So for Sen. Risch to really point that out and show we’re important to Idaho Falls and the community, it’s huge. Obviously, there are a ton of other businesses around, but this brings light to us and to remind other people we’re here.”
Family was a major reason for Rosenberg to join the business. She hopes the work that they have done at the restaurant has continued their family’s legacy.
“It all has to do with making my grandparents proud,” she said. “This place holds true to the heart, and I want to be a part of it, and show I can do it just like any other family member.”
Smitty’s was a chain restaurant, established out of Canada, but Lott and Rosenberg’s grandparents bought out the business in the 1970s and continued to operate out of its location at 645 W. Broadway St.
“When they cut off from the franchise they had some of the good secret recipes my grandpa made up,” Rosenberg said. “And it has stuck.”
Kamron Hall has lived in Idaho Falls for 18 years and enjoys several aspects about Smitty’s.
“I’ve always been a fan of their customer service,” he said. “Everybody there is super-friendly and they’re on top of everything.”
Hall typically goes for one of Smitty’s signature steaks.
“The food itself is amazing,” he said.
The fact that Smitty’s operates as a small business in the area also keeps Hall coming back.
“I like that they’ve been up and running for as long as they have been,” he said. “It’s a good, long run. And I like the idea they’ve been so successful with this one location here in Idaho Falls.
“Their location is pretty ideal too. Everybody sees them when they’re driving by.”
As an established business in the community, the sisters hope to continue providing quality service to Idaho Falls and tourists that frequent the area.
“We’re wanting to keep everything fresh, consistent, and homemade,” Lott said. “It really makes the big difference.
Smitty’s Pancake and Steak House is open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. To learn more, visit smittys-if.com.
Reporter Marc Basham can be reached at 208-542-6763.