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A canyon oasis

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By Maria Wyllie Explore Big Sky Staff Writer

GALLATIN GATEWAY – Over the past year, the Inn on the Gallatin, located

along the banks of the Gallatin River on Highway 191 north of Big Sky, has

undergone many changes, including a facelift, a new menu and year-round

hours, all under the direction of new owners Deanne and Steve Stalnaker.

The couple is originally from southern California, but they have deep roots in

Montana and have been visiting family in the area for years. Deanne kept an eye

on the property for nearly a decade.

“It was a running joke,” Deanne said. “When we would drive through, I told my

kids we would own this someday.”

Then, in June of 2012, their daughter Stephanie sent them a picture of the Inn

with a “for sale” sign in front. “Things just fell into place, and we said, ‘why not,

let’s do it,’” Steve said.

The sale was finalized in January 2013, and the Stalnakers now live on the

property, calling the canyon their home. For five months they worked to renovate

the cabins and café themselves, bringing the 1955 establishment into the 21st


Although they have no experience in the food and beverage or hotel and tourism

industries, they’ve found success simply by following the Golden Rule: “Treat

others how you want to be treated.”

Operating with the customer experience in mind has created a friendly

atmosphere at the inn’s café, where waitress Becca Lieurance always recognizes

repeat clientele and chef Erin Benson sometimes brings you your food herself.

As much as the Inn needs business from visitors staying there or parking in

the RV lot, the support from locals cannot be dismissed. Recognizing this, the

Stalnakers have made a point of supporting the community.

“We have been very conscious about buying local and making sure as much food

as possible is made from scratch,” Deanne said.

Serving what Chef Benson describes as “comfort American fare,” the café is

open for breakfast and lunch Wednesdays through Sundays. Offering consistent

service is important to the Stalnakers, so they’ve opted to close the doors on

Mondays and Tuesdays to give Benson and Lieurance, their only employees,

time off.

Now open for business year round, the Inn on the Gallatin is a perfect respite

for skiers, fishermen, those seeking a weekend escape, and of course hungry

locals. Deanne and Steve will welcome you to the Inn like it’s their home. That’s

because it is.

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