In 1995, Denise Jantz and Kathleen Heinle opened a small food truck in the tram station parking lot just outside of McCarthy, Alaska. In the days before the bridge, visitors could grab a bite before they pulled themselves across the Kennicott. Neither Denise nor Kathleen dreamt that The Roadside Potatohead, named in honor of the Tom Robbins' book "Another Roadside Attraction," would grow into a multi-location and multi-story restaurant.
After three years, Denise took on full ownership of the restaurant. The food truck moved over the river and nestled into a quiet corner of McCarthy behind a stream and shaded by cottonwoods. In 2003, Denise "passed the potato" to colleague and friend, Stephanie Peikert, widely known as "Spuddy."
In 2007, Spuddy sold the Potato to its current owners, Rebecca Bard and Ian Gyori. Together they have a combined 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Rebecca leads the front-of-house team, and Ian works as the executive chef.
In April 2014, they stumbled upon a chance to open a second Potato on the Valdez waterfront. It was an opportunity they couldn't pass up. Realizing that running a second Potato (200 miles away from the original) would require some help, Christine O'Connor and Glen Sinclair, dear friends and great co-workers, were brought in as partners to help make it happen. Within a month, they'd rented a space in Valdez and opened The Roadside Potatohead Too. With the addition of Christine and Glenn the Valdez location has become a successful fixture for locals and tourists alike.
By 2015, the tiny McCarthy food truck had garnered so much love and business from the community and visitors that they desperately needed a bigger, more versatile space. The team added Malcolm Vance as co-owner, a trained chef and business owner, and took an ambitious bound forward.
Over the winter, they constructed a two-story restaurant designed by Ian on McCarthy's main street. Opened in June 2016, the new Potato now has full breakfast, lunch, and dinner table service and a beer and wine license. They host concerts, community events, and accommodate locals, visitors, afternoon coffee sippers, early morning burrito buyers, late night beer drinkers, and everyone in between.