New management team will offer farm-to-table options, cocktails and brews
By Tom Marino EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – Boutique café Toast has transitioned to ACRE Café and Cocktails. Led by General Manager Adam Harman and located in Big Sky Town Center, the café plans offers a daily menu featuring meals to support vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, paleo and keto lifestyles.
Harman, joined by business partners Campbell Schnebly, James Murphy, Kathryn Moos, Jeff Mroz and Kaley Burns in running the eatery, plans to hire around 16 employees.
“This all started with a hike,” Harman said. The three couples discussed the idea of running a healthy eatery when they hiked Lemondrop Trail near Rainbow Ranch last spring.
Harman grew up in Billings and began skiing at Big Sky Resort in 1986 when he was 5 years old. “That trip stands out with my grandma breaking her ankle on Mr. K,” said Harman, who also worked at a ski shop in Billings and spent time in Colorado and Alaska before moving to Big Sky full time in November of 2019.
Murphy, Moos and Mroz are natural product founders. Moos and Mroz founded a company called Only What You Need (OWYN), a plant-based protein drink. In 2018, Murphy founded LMNT, producer of a zero-sugar electrolyte drink mix for folks following the keto, low-carb or paleo diets. The two couples have been involved in the healthy food space for years and are looking to provide more healthy food options in Big Sky.
“In the day-to-day operations, our main focus is supporting Adam and the team,” said Schnebly, who also works as a freelance writer and literary agent. “We’re behind the scenes working on space and menu design, budget and management.”
The café is currently open every day for coffee, light fare and grab-and-go options from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be building to ACRE’s full menu and hours throughout the fall to serve breakfast, lunch and evening bar bites and cocktails, according to Schnebly.
“Our plan for ACRE is to keep it simple and extremely high quality, serving you the wholesome ingredients you’d find on one acre of land,” she said.
New kitchen equipment arriving soon will allow ACRE to expand the menu as needed, Harman says, adding that fare will include a number of to-go selections.
“A lot of people are excited to have a healthy grab-and-go option after skiing the slopes for the day, hiking or whatever you’re doing,” he said. “We don’t want people waiting in line too long.”
Keeping it healthy and simple will be the focus, according to Burns, who also owns Big Sky Natural Health just down the street from ACRE. “Nutrition is one of my passions, which is where I fell in with these guys in terms of menu development,” said Burns, a natural health product physician who focuses on a more holistic approach to medicine along with IV nutrient therapy.
“[Kaley] is making sure we toe the line nutritionally,” Schnebly said.
Moos and Mroz wanted a place where folks can relax with great food and drink. “A place to hang and spend time with friends whether you’re local to Big Sky or visiting,” Moos said. “We’re really trying to encourage people to open your laptop and be comfortable here. In theory, on a Saturday you’ll be able to come here for brunch and stay until 10 p.m.”
For her part, Mroz is thrilled for the new opportunity. “Adam and the group he’s assembled are true professionals,” she said. “We’re really excited by the collaboration.”
The three couples also plan to have ACRE après this winter with live music. Cocktails, charcuterie, and bar bites will highlight the evening menu.
“ACRE is completely made for Big Sky,” Schnebly said.
Harman noted that on the Lemondrop hike they all agreed they wanted to offer options that were not currently available in Big Sky.
The story on the wall at the café says it all:
“Help us to make ACRE your own. We’d love your feedback and will do our best to incorporate what you need … maybe you’ll even get a dish named after you! With this new wave of growth, we all have the opportunity to collectively shape the next phase of town. We aim to be good stewards of this community and the surrounding lands we love – offering events to connect, nourishing food, reliable hours and everything you need to fuel your day’s adventures.”