When Madison Cross Huck’s father got sick years ago, he couldn’t eat bread or sugar, and his family started making him juices and smoothies to help him feel better. A healthy diet allows him to feel his best and he continues a naturopathic approach in addition to Western medicine.
“He tried using traditional medicine and it just didn’t work,” Cross said. “He’s always been at his best when he’s had juices and smoothies and that’s where we base our recipes.”
Huck eventually succumbed to his illness, but Cross and her husband and business partner, Kyle, continued the healthy legacy when they opened Huck’s Place about four years ago at Stumptown Marketplace on Spokane Avenue in downtown Whitefish.
“We wanted our own store from the beginning,” Cross said. “We moved in there and put up two menu boards and started from there.”
After the market closed, they moved to a new location last year on Central Avenue, where they renovated the space to open their own store, and artists painted an Italian-themed mural on the interior with Huck on the wall. Around the same time they moved, they also started their own family and now have two daughters, Grace, 2, and Eloise, 5 months.
Huck’s Place is centered around a family inspired by their favorite recipes and they also got help building from her uncle.
“My uncle helped us build this and come up with the Italian theme, and then we just started adding a bunch of my family’s favorite things,” Cross said of the juice bar’s interior.
Cross continued his father’s favorite juice and smoothie recipes at the new juice bar and restaurant, which also serves breakfast and lunch, coffee, ice cream, baked goods and takeout.
Huck’s Special consists of coconut milk, kale, spinach, banana, pineapple, avocado and honey, and the restaurant serves several other smoothies that are all organic and dairy-free, all of which can be made into a smoothie bowl with fresh fruit on top.
“We don’t add any sugars and it’s all plant-based,” Cross said.
To continue the theme of food as medicine, a local cancer survivor also shared her own smoothie recipe with Huck’s called Natalie’s Survivor, which contains almond milk, spinach, banana, mixed berries, flaxseed, spirulina, cinnamon and almond butter.
“That’s the smoothie she says helped her, so we make that too, and it’s pretty popular,” Cross said.
Huck’s refreshing juices are an even more concentrated form of delicious vitamins and minerals – with juices centered around roots, vegetables, turmeric and fresh fruit. Many customers also regularly order colon cleansing with ginger, lemon, cayenne and turmeric. The store also offers a miniature version of the colon cleanse called a mule kick shot, which contains ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper.
Since Huck loved to brew beer, Cross added ginger beer to the menu as another ode to her father, which she makes with lemon, ginger, filtered water, vanilla and cane sugar. She also adds other flavors to it like habanero, strawberry rhubarb, lime, and raspberry, which also make delicious cocktail mixers. Cross says the habanero variety pairs well with tequila, while the vodka complements the strawberry rhubarb.
Huck’s Place originally started with just smoothies and juice, but after moving to its new location on Central Avenue, manager Racheal Broom introduced a coffee bar. Coffee drinks are made with Italian syrups from Illy coffee beans to make lattes, cappuccinos, teas, matcha and cold drinks that flow from an Illy machine.
Cross added ice cream to the menu to continue the store’s Italian theme, with a variety of flavors sourced from a distributor in Salt Lake City that imports its ingredients from Italy.
“My parents traveled to Italy together and loved it,” Cross said. “They ate ice cream together and we try to base the menu around some of their favorite flavors.”
But no straw or spoon required for every menu item, breakfast items include farm-fresh eggs with Farm to Market ham, bacon or sausage in a burrito or served in a bagel or sandwich with Wich Haus focaccia bread. Lunch items include paninis, soups and salads with vegetarian options.
“We just want to be a family fun restaurant,” Cross said.
Huck’s Place is open seven days a week during the summer, 8am to 6pm Sunday and Monday, 8am to 8pm Tuesday to Thursday, and 8am to 10pm Friday and Saturday.