Letting Go of Tito’s and Welcoming Creekbend to Hope
By Jeannine Stafford-Jabaay
The town of Hope said its goodbyes to iconic Tito’s Discovery Cafe. In its place, a new energy has transformed the restaurant. Creekbend Company officially opened its doors on May 18 to locals and visitors, offering hearty and delicious food choices, picturesque camping sites, and epic community events.
Tito’s was known for its small town charm and its award winning pies. Gina Motoyama, the niece of the original founder, tried several approaches to run the restaurant when she purchased the business from her uncle’s estate. Motoyama states that her passion was never in the restaurant industry, and that she wanted to find someone who would take the cafe to the next level. Enter Steve Thomas.
“When I purchased the property, I wanted to lay the foundation for a thriving business for decades to come,” says Thomas. “I wanted to bring some new aspects to the business while keeping many wonderful traditions that have already been established.”
Thomas is an entrepreneur with a deep love for the town of Hope. His cousin, Renna Martin, owns the Seaview Cafe and Bar in downtown Hope.
“I have been coming to Hope since the summer of 2008. I would work at my cousin Renna’s restaurant in town,” shares Thomas. “From literally the first day I arrived in Hope, I knew this would be my home one day.”
Thomas has extensive business experience Outside, but making a name for himself in Alaska has always been a dream of his.
“I have been running my own businesses for about ten years now, ” he shares. “I have a couple Outfitter stores and a yoga studio back in the Lower 48, as well as a boutique grocery store. I knew an amazing opportunity would one day present itself in Alaska, and this was clearly it!”
The new Creekbend Company has not wandered far from the Tito’s model, but it has expanded the services originally provided.
“Our business is more than just a restaurant, and thus we wanted the name to really capture that. Creekbend Company – awesome restaurant, live music events, camping, weddings, private parties, camping, cabin rentals and more,” shares Thomas.
Creekbend is one of the only places in Hope to purchase a hot breakfast – and what a breakfast it is!
“The restaurant will go back to being a full service cafe,” says Thomas, “with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast available until 4!”
Creekbend has also continued the Tito’s tradition of made-from-scratch desserts and pies. Thomas’ brother, Jack Thomas, is the new Creekbend Pastry Chef and has been creating mouth-watering delicacies that are prominently displayed at the counter to tempt patrons.
Creekbend has already had some very well attended outdoor music events. In both rain and shine, people have flocked to the backyard gazebo for great food, drinks and tunes. Summer solstice brought out hundreds of attendees to Creekbend to hear Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Fourth of July, which is typically little celebrated in Hope, hosted a town parade, hot dog feed and pie eating contest, all courtesy of Thomas and the Creekbend crew. Several other events have already taken place on the Creekbend property with more to come throughout the summer and well into winter.
“Hope is a very special place in the summer time, and we see this beautiful mix of locals and visitors enjoying the outdoor adventure, the food and beer, and everything else out town has to offer,” says Thomas. “But as Hope continues its natural growth as a town and community, we hope to foster that great synergy between locals and visitors. We hope that we as business owners can ensure that all the needs of a visitor spending a few nights in Hope are fulfilled.”
More information on upcoming events, the complete cafe menu, and details on renting a campsite can be found at creekbendco.com.