Teton Valley News
June 12, 2019
West Side Yard is now a showcase of modern design
After five months of fevered renovation, the West Side Yard is back open, now as an altar to architectural exceptionalism.
The West Side Yard, formerly the Timberline, has been around since the 1940s and has passed through quite a few hands in that time. The Mills brothers of Mills Concrete bought the bar in early 2018 and immediately made some big changes: they redid the bar, added a hatchet throwing cage that garnered instant popularity, and shut down the restaurant in order to retool service.
General manager Chris Christmas was hired last summer with the goal of reintroducing food service. Then he encountered some issues with the flooring, so West Side Yard was shuttered for what was supposed to be two weeks.
Unfortunately with age comes deterioration. Every repair revealed a new issue, until workers found themselves ripping the floor up and starting from scratch, including pouring a new foundation. Among the unpleasant surprises was a coal-fired water heater buried in the floor. The old building certainly didn’t lack character.
“We started with a facelift but it ended up being cheaper to tear it all down,” Christmas said.
The front wall alone took two months to recreate. And it was the middle of winter. Christmas said that while passersby questioned the length of the bar’s closure, the renovation by all rights should have taken a full year. He credited Dry Line Builders with crushing the workload.
“I don’t think there’s another general contractor in the valley that could have done this job this fast,” he said.
The upgrades to the space include intricate industrial furniture from Bonneville Customs, huge doors with steampunk handles, and every flavor of artisan concrete form. Workers removed layer upon layer of drop ceiling and moldy insulation, revealing the hand-hewn beams of the original ceiling. The old dining room space has been revived with big street-facing windows, and when the fully-renovated kitchen reopens customers will order at the counter, relieving the restaurant of the logistical challenges of a full wait staff. Christmas designed a limited menu of affordable bar food in small portions.
“That makes it easier for us and good for the customer,” he explained. “This is all new for us, so we’re going to start small the right way.”
With one of the valley’s coveted liquor licenses, West Side Yard has a full bar as well as 16 taps of mostly local beer, which will soon include a collaboration lager with Roadhouse Brewing.
Still in the works is the side yard for which the business is named. A concrete wall is being erected around what was formerly the west parking lot and the whole area will be a grassy yard with fire pits, yard games, and more hatchet throwing cages. The large rear room is unchanged and will serve as a music venue and dance hall; the first show, featuring DJ Cut la Whut and Mikey Thunder, is coming up on June 14 during the summer kick-off party.
Christmas’s favorite touch is a 1942 International school bus, currently being overhauled by Bonneville Customs, that will sit in the back corner of the yard and offer a full bar and leather furniture.
“Every inch has been thought of, every part and piece,” he said. “I’m excited about this. It’s going to be a fun summer.”