For generations of Boiseans, The Torch meant one thing: “Home of the Original Finger Steaks,” as the sign out front proclaimed.
Bikini-clad dancers took over the space at 1826 W. Main St. in 1997. At some point, the finger steaks invented by chef Milo Bybee disappeared from the menu.
Could those strips of beef tenderloin, coated in a seasoned egg and flour batter and deep-fried to golden perfection, be ready for a comeback?
Mans and Joanna Montgomery, the owners of The Torch Lounge and the Torch 2 on Vista Avenue — which never served finger steaks — have listed the two businesses for sale.
The $4.2 million asking price from Lee and Associates includes the two businesses plus a neighboring property on Main Street that houses Stars Auto Sales.
The Main Street Torch building has 4,190 square feet and sits on a half-acre, with 60 parking spaces. It is assessed for $632,200, according to the Ada County Assessor’s Office. The car lot, which has 30 parking spaces and a sales office with 384 square feet, sits on 0.35 acres. It is assessed for $229,500.
The Torch 2, at 610 S. Vista Ave., is assessed at $406,300. It has 3,142 square feet and is on a 0.43-acre lot.
The liquor licenses for the two bikini bars could be worth a sizable amount on their own. Late last year, the Idaho Statesman reported that the average price of the last three licenses sold in Boise was nearly $180,000 each.
The owners could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Torch on Main Street is across the street from the Red Lion Downtowner, whose new owner announced last month that it will spend $10 million for a makeover and rebranding as an upscale Delta by Marriott.
Bybee, who went to work for the Torch Cafe in 1946, claimed to have invented finger steaks using leftover tenderloin scraps while working as a butcher for the U.S. Forest Service in McCall. Finger steaks were reportedly on the Torch’s menu since 1957, according to a 2008 account by longtime Statesman columnist Tim Woodward, who said Bybee died in 1985 in Arizona.
Last fall, The Torch courted controversy when it rented a billboard on State Street in West Boise showing a scantily dressed woman on her back. Eight people complained to Canyon Outdoor Media, which installed the sign.
In March, the Torch took a playful swipe at the lounge’s past. The message board outside the Main Street bikini bar said “ The finger steaks are back. Just kidding.”
Boisedev.com first reported that the businesses were for sale.