Friday, June 11, 2010

Bring on the night

Perry’s restaurant turns 25, starts dinner service

Express Staff Writer

Keith Perry serves dinner to Jack and Marilyn Alcamo. Perry’s will have dinner service throughout the summer seven days a week until 9 p.m. beginning tonight.

Pulled pork with mashed potatoes and corn, Peruvian shrimp and rice, macaroni and cheese, buffalo wings and steamed artichokes are a few of the items to satiate one's hunger at Perry's restaurant in Ketchum, now open for dinner until 9 p.m.

Perry's celebrates 25 years of serving breakfast and lunch this year, and owners Paula and Keith Perry decided it was time to make the leap to serving dinner. Beginning this evening, Perry's will offer its full grill menu with made-to-order sandwiches as well as appetizers and some select eclectic dishes for dinner. Wines and beers will also be available.

Paula and Keith were living in Phoenix, Ariz., when they first came to Sun Valley to visit their friend Brian Gallagher for a ski trip.

"We slept on the floor," Keith said. "Then, after a spin around the Northwest after going to the '84 Olympics, we came back."

The Perry's decided to move to Sun Valley because they wanted a change and thought the area would be a nice place to live. Keith worked in construction and Paula was a nurse.

"We started out with 800 square feet at this location, and at the time had the second espresso machine in the valley—Niki at the Grinder had the first," Keith said. "In the first five years of business we expanded four times."

In 2000, the Perrys remodeled the kitchen and added a full breakfast menu.

"Every once in awhile you must reinvent," Paula said. "In 2010, we are adding dinner."

Paula said Sun Valley is not an easy place to make a living, but through lunch deliveries and loyal customers, Perry's survives. The Community School lunches, Silver Creek Outfitters' early-morning fishing trips and other business needs for lunches has allowed Perry's to grow.

"Things have changed," Paula said. "Ten years ago we struggled to stay open because we did not have enough people to hire. Now, business has doubled and we can give high school students a first job."

Perry's employs up to 50 high school students each summer and has seen many go through college and return as adults, sometimes once again offering services to help Perry's.

"For the first time we have two generations of the same family working for us," Paula said.

Paula said that to maintain the level of quality and business they have attained, she thinks in terms of throwing a dinner party every day and that she must take care of her guests.

"To do it every day, you have to embrace the idea," she said. "I have to have the right mindset."

The Perrys said they could not imagine living anywhere else even if business is down 20 percent.

"At least, here, if business is down or it's a bad day, I can go hiking or biking," Paula said.

Paula has joined the VAMPS and said it has changed her life. The Perrys have two adopted children who also work in the restaurant business.

"It would have been impossible to adopt children in Phoenix," she said. "It is gratifying to know that you are a part of people's lives and not something people take for granted."

Paula and Keith know almost everyone's name and said that Perry's is like Cheers but without the alcohol emphasis.

"In our mind, it does not seem like any time has passed," Paula said. "This is a vibrant community and there are lots of things happening with vested people."

Perry's hopes to be the dinner spot for bikers after evening bike rides, a place to grab food for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony or have dinner before a movie.

"It's healthy, fresh and reasonably priced food," Keith said. "And outside dining will be great for the summer."

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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