Juneau has become quite the “foodie” destination — the capital city was even featured in Vogue magazine this month for its restaurant fare. Now another new speciality eatery has sprouted up: Spuds-A-Plenty.
On a Friday morning, owner Jocelyn Miles worked with one of her three employees, or as she calls them “tater-tamers,” to erect an inflatable air dancer to advertise her potato eatery at her food shack by the Juneau Job Center. She served what she said has already proved to be a popular menu item, the chili spud — baked potato with gooey cheese, chili, chopped green onions and a side of sour cream — as her employee took a call-in order.
“I’ve never done this before. This is my first time opening a food shack, so it’s brand new to me,” she said.
After living on the East Coast, working in Georgetown and Washington D.C., she said she missed the baked potatoes served there.
“I love to cook. I love to try new things. And I thought I could kill for a baked potato right now,” she said, of what inspired her to introduce Juneau to all the things potato.
Miles came up with the idea for a food shack focused on baked potatoes as its main dish in late August. Spuds-A-Plenty took only a month from conception to completion (it opened Oct. 1), she said. She bought the old food shack, did extensive renovations, ordered and installed her new sink and other equipment, developed her menu and bought the necessary ingredients, including the storebought potatoes. In that time frame she also found her “tater-tamers” right next door at the job center.
“It didn’t take me long. I had my blinders on and I was focused on getting it done,” she said.
Currently on the menu, she has a wide variety of spuds, from the simple Original Spud with chives, cheese bacon and sour cream to the Taste of Italy, Chicken-A-La-King, Gumbo Spud, Chili Spud and even the vegetarian option Broccoli and Mushroom Spud. For those who can’t make up their minds, there’s always the spud sampler that comes along with cornbread and corn, which are also sides on the menu (soups and chicken too).
“We’ve got anything to do with taters,” Miles said with a laugh.
Diners with a sweet tooth can get one of the two dessert spuds, one “which is a diabetic coma waiting to happen,” Miles said; it’s a bacon-wrapped sweet potato with brown sugar and butter; the festively named Halloween spud features cinnamon, apples, caramel and marshmallows.
As she discussed her menu, Miles said she looked at what people were doing back east, adjusted it to what she could get in Juneau and just went with it. It’s still evolving though, she said, since she is still figuring out what people respond to well, what’s just mediocre and coming up with new items to keep things interesting. Like this Friday morning, she made a beef stroganoff spud just for experimentation, a suggestion by one of her hires.
“The menu is … what would you like today?” Miles said with a laugh and gesture. “Let’s try something!”
Miles opens the food shack at 4 a.m. and works it until she has to go to her day job at Shattuck and Grummet Insurance and then one of her employees comes by to hold down the fort; in the evening she comes back to close the place up at 7 p.m. and also works all day Saturday. Spuds-A-Plenty is closed on Sundays. She said she may shorten the morning hours since there hasn’t been too much a reception with those who are early birds like people headed to the mines, or those driving to catch a ferry. The hours will likely change to 7 or 8 a.m.
Miles’ hope is that the food shack will last the winter and see the tourist season. She said she’s gotten a good response on Facebook and has appreciated all the local support.
“As long as you enjoy the food, I’m happy with it.”
For more information, go to Spuds-A-Plenty’s Facebook page at facebook.com/spudsaplenty. Orders for pickup can be placed at 523-4900.