HAINES — When state COVID-19 mandates forced Kari Raffety to temporarily close The Main Event Sports Bar and Eatery in Baker City, she set to work on a pandemic project.
Raffety opened another restaurant in another town.
But at least there’s only 10 miles between the two.
Raffety owns The Main Event with her dad, Jay Raffety.
In the midst of the pandemic, they decided to buy the former Frontier Restaurant in downtown Haines.
“It’s such a huge space with so much potential,” Kari said. “We spent all Christmas (break) and January in here.”
The space is divided in half with the restaurant on one side and the bar on the other with a pool table and a shuffleboard game.
The Raffetys installed new flooring and lighting, painted the ceiling, replaced tables and chairs, remodeled the bathrooms and added an ATM machine and lottery machines.
Jay also created a door in the north wall that will lead to a future outdoor seating area.
The Main Frontier opened Feb. 19 at 920 Front St. in Haines.
The Main Event, 1929 Main St. in Baker City, is open, too.
“They’re like sisters,” Kari said of the two restaurants.
Restaurant restrictions over the past year caused The Main Event to be closed for about four months.
And after every shutdown, Kari said fewer employees came back to work.
She said it hasn’t been easy to run a restaurant in the current climate.
“I’ve never worked so hard as in this past year,” she said. “I have to be on the front lines with them — good leadership is weathering the storm with them. We really are a family and a team.”
When restrictions eased and The Main Event reopened, Kari and her staff saw an uptick in takeout orders.
And they saw some new faces trying the restaurant for the first time.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “We got a lot of new customers.”
Although indoor dining is allowed now — although at reduced capacity — she said both restaurants still see a fair number of takeout orders.
“We’re doing lots of takeout,” she said.
There’s been a learning curve to package the food and separate hot and cold items. And even then, she knows takeout can’t mimic the experience of dining in.
“Those to-gos aren’t the same as when you sit down and it’s right off the grill,” she said.
The Main Frontier, she said, offers another option for the local restaurant scene.
She’s had some customers call the Haines location if restaurants in Baker City have a long wait time.
“If Baker’s crazy on a Friday or Saturday, we usually have room,” she said.
So far, she said the Main Frontier has seen mostly local customers, although others from out of town did stop on their way down from Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.
Both restaurants have the same menu, as well as daily food and drink specials.
The Smokejumper burger is a local favorite, as well as the BLTA and prime rib street tacos.
She recently added the Main Frontier burger to both menus.
“We’re coming up with new stuff all the time,” she said.
The Main Frontier is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Main Event is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Both locations now offer breakfast on the weekends.
For takeout orders, call the Main Frontier at 541-856-3688.
The Main Event phone number is 541-523-6988.