Entrepreneurs: Celebrating Traditions At The Heart Of Laurel Restaurant

Billings Gazette, Mont.
Photo Credit:James Woodcock

The restaurant is named for the great-grandmother of one of the cooks, and the old-fashioned aprons of other grandmothers hang on the wall.

And, once in a while, the restaurants hosts a dress-up tea party.

But owner Colette Decker doesn’t want men to think they won’t be comfortable at Emma’s Kitchen in Laurel at 401 East Main St.

She describes one of the restaurant’s challenges as “not giving the impression that we’re a girlfriend-out-for-lunch kind of eatery.”

“That being said,” she quickly adds, “girlfriends out for lunch are a mainstay of our business.”

Still, she coaxes men into Emma’s by offering dishes like meatloaf and pork sandwiches.

Emma’s Kitchen may be reached at 628-4111 or through its website, www.emmaslaurel.com.

Here’s what else Decker had to say about running her own business and the challenge of being found when you’re off the beaten path:

Position:
Co-owner with my husband, John.

Nature of the business:
Restaurant and bakery.

Why start this business?

Our daughter, Elizabeth, had gained great experience after finishing culinary school and decided to start her dream restaurant. John and I supported her decision, thinking we would stay in the background as advisers.

Where did startup funding come from?

John and I both lost our mothers in 2008, his in January, mine in December. In both families, the decision was made to sell the family home. The small share from both home sales helped fund the startup of Emma’s. This is part of the reason we honor past generations.

How long have you been in business?
Since August 2010.

What was done to overcome your challenges?

We want to attract both men and women by offering more than salads, soups and quiche. Home-cooked lunch specials, like meatloaf and pulled pork sliders, plus menu items like macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie are all local favorites. Our sandwiches on home-baked breads are paired with hearty soups or the side of the day. We also serve breakfast all day. One signature dish is our own corned beef hash made with natural beef from the Nordahl ranch at Molt.

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