This story was originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
For Maya Wilson, anything worth doing has been terrifying at first. Her newest endeavor on Whistle Hill is no exception.
Wilson, who launched her first cookbook “Alaska from Scratch” earlier this year, announced this week that she will be the head chef at the upcoming Soldotna restaurant Addie Camp Dining Car eatery and wine bar.
Wilson’s popular blog, Alaska From Scratch, began in 2011. She previously worked at The Flats Bistro in Kenai. Wilson said she thinks the new eatery is a great addition to the Soldotna food community.
“The vision for the restaurant was to do it as locally sourced as possible. To support local farmers, support our local vendors. I’m really pumped about that because that’s exactly what the food community needs and what Alaska needs,” Wilson said. “What I want, what I’ve always wanted, is for people to be well-fed and nourished, and this is just an extension of that.”
Peninsula residents may have seen the former train car jutting out from a building under construction atop a hill along the Sterling Highway on the way out of Soldotna toward Sterling. The train car and the building will be opening up as the new restaurant later this year.
The restaurant, owned by the Mary and Henry Krull, who opened Brew@602 in a neighboring former train car last year, will be offering dinner service and Sunday brunch.
The two-story building features large picture windows with views of Soldotna and the Kenai Mountains, two outdoor decks, a bar and plenty of inspiration from the railroad industry, including rail tie siding from the Alaska Railroad, and of course, the train car that will accommodate a more intimate dining experience.
The 1913 rail car, named Addie Camp, came from Addie Mine in Hill City, South Dakota. Wilson said the owners plan to preserve as much of the car’s original detail as possible. The Krulls rode in the car many times over the years before it was taken out of service in 2008. It was part of a tourist excursion in South Dakota. For Mary Krull, creating a restaurant came down to her and her husband’s love of good food.
“We like all things fresh and local,” she said. “We wanted to give Soldotna another option.”
The restaurant will also have its own hydroponic grow operation that will provide greens year-round, adding freshness to their dishes, even in the dead of winter.
Wilson has already started to meet with local farmers and vendors to partner with. She has begun to conceptualize the menu and said it will change with the seasons. Vegan and gluten-free options will also be available.
“It’s not fussy, it’s approachable. I really do try to focus on Alaska’s ingredients. I feel like that will be received well by the locals and the tourists, and I’m hopeful I will bridge that gap a little bit,” Wilson said.
Currently, the owners are working on acquiring a beer and wine license. The application process requires signatures from residents, 21 and older, in a one-mile radius of Addie Camp Dining Car eatery and wine bar. When open, the restaurant hopes to serve local beers on tap and fine wine.
“We need the community’s help to be the eatery and wine bar that we hope to be,” Wilson said.
Krull said they hope to open the restaurant this October.
“It’s a huge undertaking. It’s so exciting, and terrifying too. I’m most excited about for when we finally open and we get that food on the table,” Wilson said.