Restaurant contributes to small town charm

Lodgepole welcomes the people of Pullman to connect with one another over a bite to eat

Alex+Berham%2C+Lodgepole+owner%2C+left%2C+and+front+of+house+manager+Tanner+Prace+Collier+discuss+the+fusion+of+Pacific+Northwest+indgredients+with+global+flavors+found+in+their+food+on+Sept.+11+at+Lodgepole.+
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Restaurant contributes to small town charm

Alex Berham, Lodgepole owner, left, and front of house manager Tanner Prace Collier discuss the fusion of Pacific Northwest indgredients with global flavors found in their food on Sept. 11 at Lodgepole.

Alex Berham, Lodgepole owner, left, and front of house manager Tanner Prace Collier discuss the fusion of Pacific Northwest indgredients with global flavors found in their food on Sept. 11 at Lodgepole.

CAROLYNN CLAREY | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Alex Berham, Lodgepole owner, left, and front of house manager Tanner Prace Collier discuss the fusion of Pacific Northwest indgredients with global flavors found in their food on Sept. 11 at Lodgepole.

CAROLYNN CLAREY | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

CAROLYNN CLAREY | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

Alex Berham, Lodgepole owner, left, and front of house manager Tanner Prace Collier discuss the fusion of Pacific Northwest indgredients with global flavors found in their food on Sept. 11 at Lodgepole.

JACKEE SMITH, Evergreen reporter

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Lodgepole restaurant made its debut in Moscow during the Art Walk in 2015.

Alex Barham and his wife have worked together for a long time, and they decided they wanted to own a restaurant in a town that was like Pullman or Moscow.

“Why try to keep finding something that we already know exists? So that’s what kind of led us back here,” Alex Barham, co-owner of Lodgepole, said.

When it first opened, Tanner Prace Collier, now the front-of-house manager, was one of its first employees. He was working at another restaurant across the street at the time, and that was when they interviewed him.

“What they told me was that they wanted to have a higher-end restaurant that didn’t feel like you had to be higher-end to be here,” Prace Collier said. “When people come in, we want them to feel like this is their home, and they’re comfortable.”

The food is one of the most important things, but what sets Lodgepole apart is the investment they get from their staff, Barham said. They want an atmosphere that makes people comfortable so they want to come back, whether they are coming from the farm in their work boots or a businessman in a suit.

One of the coolest things about working for Lodgepole was watching it grow, Prace Collier said. Since he started, the restaurant has doubled in size.

“Just seeing the staff evolve over the years, and seeing the service just grow to its highest potential, and we’re still going with that,” Prace Collier said. “It’s getting more pleasant every day to come in here.”

Owning a restaurant isn’t always easy, Barham said. There is a never-ending strive for perfection, and that is a challenge Lodgepole constantly faces.

Another challenge is being a restaurant in a college town. Both Barham and Prace Collier see college students grow, but since they are only there for a couple of years before graduation, these connections often bring heartbreak.

“You have to be happy for them because they’re going on, and moving on, and doing wonderful things, but it makes it difficult,” Barham said.

Besides the invested staff and friendly atmosphere, Barham takes pride in the New American cuisine they serve.

“I like to explain our food as very Pacific Northwest, ingredient-driven, so it’s all very much using local farmers and using what’s growing around us,” Barham said.

Both Barham and his wife wanted to bring over food influences they learned from Seattle, so they bring in coastal items, such as oysters and shellfish.

Barham’s wife, Melissa, has family from Mexico, so they try to bring in different spices and food ideas and combine food profiles to make something nice and comfortable for people to deal with.

Both Barham and Prace Collier have invested a lot of time in Lodgepole and have seen it grow over the past for years, and they hope to see their staff and service quality develop, Barham said.