ANACONDA - Their family at a crossroads, Kauz and Molly McCarthy decided three years ago to stay in Anaconda.
The timing worked out perfectly. Rarus Railway, where Kauz worked with his father, Bill, sold in 2007. At that time, the McCarthys saw the empty building at 1515 E. Commercial Ave. for sale.
The couple seized the opportunity in April and opened the Goosetown Grill restaurant, specializing in homestyle cooking and fresh desserts.
Neither knew at first it would become a restaurant, but they both knew they wanted to take care of what had become an eyesore at the gates of the community.
"We thought, if nothing else, we'd get the building fixed up and improve the entrance to town," Molly McCarthy said.
Weeds and outdated window stencils plagued what opened in 1975 as a Kentucky Fried Chicken location. Its metamorphosis to a Mexican restaurant was short-lived, and the building sat vacant for seven years until the McCarthys' purchase.
Neighbors overwhelmingly encouraged them to open a new restaurant, they said, with something different and, in particular, chicken and ribs.
Preparing the space for another revival took a heavy investment, Kauz McCarthy said, including repairs to the ceiling, walls and total replacement of the plumbing.
They also started from scratch with kitchen appliances, buying all new fryers, grills, storage and refrigerators.
"It was a big risk for us to jump in the way we have, but the bottom line is we believe in this community," Molly McCarthy said.
Molly McCarthy is no stranger to food service. She has worked about every job there is in a restaurant, from waitress up to manager.
As director of transportation with Rarus, Kauz managed up to 30 employees at a time - experience he said translates to the 15 employees at his Goosetown Grill.
It is the dedicated staff that has made the Goosetown Grill launch so successful, Kauz McCarthy said.
"None of this could be done without our staff," he said. "They're top-notch."
In the months leading up to their opening, Molly McCarthy became a "food scientist," she said, trying different recipes to perfect their menu. And yes, chicken and ribs were emphasized.
Much like KFC guards its recipe, the McCarthys are keeping quiet on the secret rub that makes their ribs a featured item.
Both Kauz and Molly grew up in families where home-cooked meals were the norm, which they strived to make a signature at the Goosetown Grill.
"We both felt if we didn't make real, home-cooked food, it would be a disappointment to the traditions we grew up with," Molly McCarthy said.
Beyond the ribs and broasted chicken, the restaurant offers pasta, fish, sandwiches and pot pies all for around $10.
Breakfast is not on the menu yet, but Molly McCarthy said they are considering adding it soon.
For all the anxiety and anticipation before opening, Kauz McCarthy said they had waits and standing room only for two solid weeks that has translated into a number of regulars already.
"Absolutely nobody walks out of here hungry," he said.
- Reporter George Plaven may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.