Word of mouth about the tasty fare at the Bread & Butter Café in Townsend seemed like a good excuse for a short drive from Helena to check it out. When I stepped inside, the vibe felt casual and comfortable. I felt sure that whatever I ordered would be worth the drive. Owner Patti Sederburg and her daughter, Sam Russell, were more than happy to sit and chat with me on how their café came to life.
Sam and her husband Seth moved from Southern Idaho to West Yellowstone in 2013 as he had secured a job as a firefighter and then moved on to Bozeman for his new position with the fire department. Wanting to purchase a home, they looked for affordable options in a smaller town outside of Bozeman and ended up in Townsend in January 2018. Sam took notice when a building on Broadway, formerly the Sweet Briar Bistro, came up for sale. The wheels started turning with Sam, sharing ideas of opening a restaurant with her mom. In January 2020, the women came to a decision. “Let’s do it.” And with that, Patti moved from Oregon to Townsend on June 23, 2020, and by June 27, the papers were signed, and Patti owned the building.
The family went to work on a complete makeover of the interior. The result is a look that is sleek, trendy and uncluttered. All but the back wall was painted in a soothing white, with just a few black and white photos adorning the walls. The wall behind the counter is accented in admiral blue, showing off the bold, hand-painted letters, Bread & Butter Café. Six months after the remodel started, the Café opened its doors in December 2020. Patti’s brother, John Kelly, gets the credit for naming their business. While brainstorming options one evening, John theorized that this new venture would be their bread and butter, meaning their livelihood. And it stuck!
The love of food and cooking has always been a part of Patti’s family of three daughters and one son. As Patti and Sam share, “we always had a dream of one day owning an eatery or restaurant, but it wasn’t the kind of dream you believe would ever really happen.” Patti worked as a school cook for almost 13 years while also catering and crafting wedding cakes. Starting out as a host at Applebee's in Walla Walla, Sam has been involved in the food industry for 10 years.
Years later, Sam’s boss at Applebee's, Gary Torrey, would play a role in the Bread & Butter Café, serving as a mentor to the family when he learned of their new venture. He and his wife are owners of the Moon’s Kitchen Café in Boise, Idaho, and invited Patti and Sam to shadow his operation for a few days. They credit the Torreys for being a positive influence on their operations.
With this new venture, Patti and Sam made sure family was still their first priority. Serving breakfast and lunch, and closing at 2 p.m. allows Sam to be home when her young kids are finished with school. Keeping their pricing affordable for their community is vital, as is good coffee, which necessitated an espresso machine. They are keen on buying local whenever possible. The café features Tumblewood Teas from Big Timber, bread products from Grains of Montana, Ghost Town Coffee out of Bozeman, The Great Alone Cattle Company in Two Dot for their beef, and Bausch Potato out of Whitehall for their fresh hash browns.
When asked what the most popular item is, both women respond simultaneously, “the sausage gravy.” Patti says with her effervescent smile, “We have people drive over from Bozeman just for the gravy. You can have biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak with gravy, or you can simply order a side of sausage gravy.”
Breakfast bestsellers include griddle backs, house-made buttermilk pancakes with a hint of vanilla, and served with a side of bacon or links. Gluten-free griddle backs are an option as well. The Bread & Butter Café offers most items on their menu gluten-free if requested, knowing this is something that customers appreciate.
The Eggs Blackstone is another popular item, featuring two poached eggs on toasted French bread, bacon, and house-made hollandaise and served with hash browns. This entree can be enhanced with spinach and tomato, creating the Eggs Blackstone Florentine. In addition to typical coffee drinks, the café offers fresh-squeezed orange juice, made in clear view of customers.
For lunch, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a nice variety of salads, wraps and homemade soups are on the menu. I ordered the strawberry spinach salad, which was colorful and delicious. Popular for the mid-day meal is the turkey bacon panini and the One O’clock Whistler, a 1/3 lb. burger with bacon, fried onions, cheddar cheese, fresh greens, tomato, pickle, burger sauce and house-made aioli on a Philly bun.
While the team loves to bake, homemade bread is not in their wheelhouse. A case full of sweet treats shows off their specialties. On any given day, customers might find gluten-free brownies, cakes, pies, cheesecake, banana bread and cookies. Sam specializes in hand pies. These small individual pies consist of a fruit filling placed in the center of a small piece of homemade dough, which is then folded over, crimped before baking, then glazed before serving.
Bread & Butter is a natural fit and so is the relationship between mother and daughters. Patti’s daughter Josie is also part of the team, working as a server.
The goal was to create a warm, hospitable atmosphere where first-time diners would quickly become repeat customers. They are efficient, without being harried. Once a customer is seated, they waste no time in handing out menus and water. It’s evident in their demeanor that the café is their passion, fueled by hard work, great attitudes, plenty of smiles, and a deep faith in God. Simple — fresh — inviting! It’s how they roll. I’ll be back!
Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 after a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.
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