Words & Deeds

Nachos with $80 wine? Why not! Tavern at Bown Crossing owners to open new restaurant, bar

The Tavern at Bown Crossing, which serves pub food and much more in East Boise, will help inspire the menu at a new Eagle restaurant.
The Tavern at Bown Crossing, which serves pub food and much more in East Boise, will help inspire the menu at a new Eagle restaurant. Courtesy photo

When the Tavern at Eagle Island opens this spring on the corner of Linder Road and Chinden Boulevard, it will be in a new strip mall building.

But it won’t be a typical strip mall restaurant, co-owner Barry Werner promises.

“We’re going to make this look fancy inside,” he says. “We have a designer. It’s going to look good. It’s not going to be four walls with some beer poster signs on the walls. The interior and everything is going to make it feel more like it’s something missing out in that area.”

If Werner sounds confident about his vision for 6500 N. Linder Road, well, he’s earned it. Along with John and Kristy Toth, he already owns two Boise restaurants: the Tavern at Bown Crossing, which opened in 2007 at 3111 S. Bown Way, and the upscale Owyhee Tavern, which they launched in 2016 in the old Gamekeeper Lounge space at 1109 W. Main St.

Eagle’s new gastropub will be just over 3,000 square feet and seat just under 100. Werner says it will be similar to the Tavern at Bown, only without as much sushi. The Tavern at Eagle Island will be family-friendly but tailored to grown-up palates. That means USDA prime-grade steaks, American Wagyu beef and daily seafood specials such as fresh halibut.

The key, Werner says, is to offer choices ranging from hearty bar food to refined entrees. The formula has succeeded at Bown Crossing.

“Some people come in and have a nacho and $80 bottle of wine,” he says. “Happens all the time! I have regulars do that all the time. They literally come in, get an $80 bottle of wine and get nachos. Next time, they’re going to have steak with their wine. Or a burger with their wine. We’re just going to have options.”

Incidentally, those options will include less expensive libations. The Tavern at Eagle Island will serve craft and domestic beers, and local and regional wines, and will have a full liquor bar. The restaurant company run by Werner and the Toths — called Prime Lots — recently secured an Eagle liquor license, nudging their decision to expand into West Ada County, he says.

Just last year they explored the idea of building a restaurant at the corner of East Barber Valley and ParkCenter Boulevard in Boise. That’s now off the table, Werner says.

It was just one of the rumored changes involving the Tavern at Bown Crossing in 2018. The building recently was put up for sale as part of a larger real-estate ticket. But a new landlord wouldn’t jeopardize the Tavern at Bown Crossing’s future, Werner says. Prime Lots signed a 10-year lease there last fall, so the Tavern at Bown is staying put for the foreseeable future.

In fact, the Tavern at Bown will close Feb. 18-22 for a facelift. “We’ve been there for 12 years,” Werner says. “It’s just time to update the place. We’re going to do a remodel: Lighting, paint, floors.”

Werner and the Toths now will divide their time between the original Tavern at Bown, the higher-end Owyhee Tavern, and the new Tavern at Eagle Island and its version of strip-mall chic.

“We’re going to have a $12, $13 gourmet burger, or you’re going to be able to have a $30 steak,” Werner says.

“Or,” he adds, chuckling, “some damn nachos if you want some!”

Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since joining the newsroom as an intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds also co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.