How The Talkeetna Roadhouse Set A Standard For Modern Rural Alaska Businesses

Alaska Roadhouse life.
Carroll Close (top) in a photo on the log
walls of the Talkeetna Roadhouse, 2014.

Remembering The Old Talkeetna Roadhouse & What It Tells Us About Running An Alaska Business

The Talkeetna Roadhouse was once run by a man named Carroll Close, who was assisted by his taciturn wife, Verna. They were hardworking midwesterners, who were dedicated to doing the best they possibly could to serve the public. It was the mid-1970's, and the Talkeetna Roadhouse was only a few decades away from the original roadhouses and lodges of the old Alaska trails.

The Roadhouse, at that time, served meals "family style." You came to the door at a certain time, you sat down, and you waited for Carroll to pour the water and coffee. You ate mounds of fried potatoes, huge slabs of homemade bread, and a staggering amount of meat. And you shared it all with other hungry people who had managed to find their way to the big roadhouse table that night.

You can still see the Roadhouse and experience something very much the same. There are changes, of course, but the overarching feeling of warmth and comfort -- a "sense of Alaska" -- remains. 

Today the Talkeetna Roadhouse and the small lodges, beds and breakfast, hotels and gas stations all over roadside Alaska; the grocery stores, restaurants, expresso stands and tow truck companies -- the small businesses of this corner of America -- are providing a sense of community and service that makes our state strong. These modern businesses continue to make Alaska meaningful and real. The day will come when people look back and remember. 

About the care that was taken by fishing guides who are now working the rivers, and the people who currently run our local libraries and small visitor centers, and tiny local museums, rafting companies, and flight tours. We are all part of the fabric that makes up "Alaska." Just like Verna and Carroll were. And we are now living a life of interesting service. Just as they did.