Double decker rockfish tacos, elk burgers on brioche buns, and sourdough French toast are just a taste of what the Pilotlight restaurant will serve up this summer in Haines. The new restaurant is set to open mid-April in the former Mosey’s Cantina building.
Cambria Goodwin is passionate about bread. Sourdough bread, to be exact.
“When it’s straight out of the oven and you just rip it open,” Goodwin describes. “Warm, plain sourdough, nothing on it. Nothing makes me happier than the smell of warm sourdough out of the oven and the [crackling] sound of it.”
Because of her love of bread, Goodwin is really excited about her restaurant’s ovens. They can bake a dozen loaves at a time.
“This is my favorite part of the whole building. This is where the bread will be made. And this is the view. It makes me so happy.”
The Pilotlight restaurant got its start last summer, as a sort of pop-up shop in the Klondike restaurant in Dalton City. Goodwin baked and served brunch or lunch during the day, and then it turned back into the Klondike restaurant in the evenings for dinner.
“So it was super limited but it was definitely super beneficial,” Goodwin said.
“It was good to get the name out there in a small, easy to manage first year, just to get everyone on the same program that Cambria makes great food,” said Goodwin’s partner, Eric Forster. “So it allowed us to start this place.”
The Pilotlight did well operating part-time out of the Klondike. But Goodwin and Forster had no plans to open their own, complete restaurant. Then, former Mosey’s Cantina owner Martha Stewart approached Goodwin.
“She said ‘I see you have this little thing going and the ladies at the bank told me to come out here and tell you to buy my building.’ And I was like ‘haha I have no money, fat chance Martha.’ Then later in the season, it ended up going well and we got really good feedback.”
And that’s when Goodwin and Forster set out on a path they never expected.
“It’s super exciting and equally terrifying, I would say,” Goodwin said. “It’s real scary. But I think in a town like Haines, there’s so much support and this community is so amazing and I think in need of more food options, that I’m hoping it goes very well.”
“The number one question I’ve heard over the past four months now is when are you opening, when are you opening?” Forster said. “Every time we go anywhere, the bank, or the post office or anything, the town is buzzing with ‘when are you opening?’”
The answer is April 16. The restaurant will serve brunch its opening day. The plan is to serve lunch and dinner weekdays, and brunch and dinner on weekends.
Last summer, the Pilotlight menus featured just a few choices. For example, sourdough French toast with fresh berries, bacon, sausage and egg tacos, and sourdough toast with goat cheese, pesto, and a fried egg.
“It was kind of eye-opening because I thought people would not be into [such a limited menu,]” Goodwin said. “I was like, ‘I hope this works because this is all I can pull off.’ But the feedback was super positive, people were like ‘oh cool there’s a vegetarian, a meat, gluten free.’ People were happy to not have a four-page mile-long menu to look through.”
She says they’ll stick with that mentality of clean, simple comfort foods that are locally sourced and adapt with what’s in season. Mosquito Lake’s Four Winds Farm is on board to supply produce, and of course, Goodwin herself will supply the carbs.
“Why do I love baking bread so much? I have thought about that a lot because it’s one of my passions. Life gets so chaotic and there’s so many things to juggle and balance. Bread is super precise and it’s more of a science. Everything’s measured and temperatures are taken. It’s something you can completely control.”
There are a few more things Goodwin and Forster need to get under control before opening. They’ve done lots of renovating and fixing up the old building, and more is needed. They’re working through the process to obtain a liquor license that will allow them to serve beer and wine. And, Goodwin plans to move away from the bright colors that defined Mosey’s aesthetic and instead decorate the restaurant with antiques and historical photographs.
In the future, the Pilotlight owners say they hope to keep the restaurant open during the summer and shoulder seasons — so local foodies can get their French toast or salmon melt fix from around February through October.