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Interview With Mike Grunow

storefront with cars in parking lot
steak with gravy, mushrooms and a side of mashed potatoes and bread
front of dining area
steak with gravy, mushrooms and a side of mashed potatoes and bread

What’s Good Here: Lolo Creek Steakhouse

Some things have changed since the Food Network featured the Lolo Creek Steakhouse on its “I Hart Food” show, hosted by Hannah Hart.

Steakhouse co-owner Matt Grunow says he hears stories, including the one about someone flying in from Oahu to eat dinner before flying back home the next morning.

But a lot has also stayed the same. Lolo Creek is the third steakhouse at this location off U.S. Highway 12.  It was built in 1987 on the foundation of what was Campbell’s Steakhouse before it burned down. Before that, it was called the Longhorn. The Grunow family bought it about 12 years ago.

Mike Grunow, Matt’s dad and co-owner of the steakhouse, moved from Detroit in 1965 to play for the Grizzlies and decided to stay long after his football days ended. He married Judy (Thyfault) Grunow, 42 years ago and has three children who are all involved in the family businesses.

The also ran the original Lolo Grocery, which they bought in 1973, and have also been the ones behind Mike’s IGA, Lolo Liquor Store Lolo Laundromat Frontier Gas and a few others.

Since the Grunows bought the steakhouse in [what year?], they made some upgrades on the menu, but kept it simple, too.

“We focus on steak,” Matt says.

The restaurant is constructed from 135- to 150-year-old trees, logged near Lolo pass. The 190 logs are expertly notched, giving the space a unique Montana feel.

The star, though, is the massive larch-wood grill, in sight of all the tables in the wide-open dining room. Meat is cooked to order there, with the grill master lowering and raising the steaks above the flames to achieve perfect doneness.

Matt suggests the 12-ounce rib-eye. As with all the steaks, it comes with a choice among three salads as an appetizer (go with the Caesar), multiple choices of potato sides and the option to add mushrooms.

You also won’t forget the massive slice of garlic bread. You don’t need it, but you probably don’t NOT need it, either. The staff here are chatty and helpful, checking in often and enthusiastically.

Matt says nice is what the place is known to be – the staff and the customers are in a good mood. He is, too, as he helps greet and seat guests as the restaurant fills up. By 7 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, every table was spoken for.

The restaurant is only open for four hours a day, but it’s a 24-hour-a-day job, says Matt.  “I don’t know how people do breakfast and lunch,” he adds. “I really don’t get it.”

The steakhouse does a decent business without a lot of advertising, but being on the Food Network absolutely helped, he says.


The network reached out about four or five years ago, but nothing panned out then. Someone since offered a tip that the next time the network is west of the Mississippi, it shouldn’t miss Lolo Creek Steakhouse.

The cast and crew of “I Hart Food” (Hart was a YouTuber before snatched of this project) showed up at the steakhouse on Cat/Griz weekend, one of the busiest of the year. They filmed for about six hours. About a year later, around five minutes of the footage aired in the sixth episode, titled “Meat Me in Montana.” It’s since re-aired. Thought it’s mostly still a local gem, the network attention has brought in more people from the East Coast , the West Coast and a bunch of places between.

“It was quite the show,” Matt says, and then continues doing what he intended to do long before it aired.

Grace Hancock (2017) Personal Interview.