Connie's Café started out as a Conoco gas station with a five-seat lunch counter in 1952. Fred Hartley closed the gas station and remodeled the building to become Fred's Diner in late 1954. Hartley sold the diner to Conrad (Connie) and Donna Balch. Connie had owned two restaurants in Washington, but his parents lived in Sandpoint. At first, Connie simply painted out Fred Hartley's name on the diner and substituted his own, but eventually the facility became known as Connie's Café.
Connie's restaurant experience served him well in Sandpoint. He knew what people wanted and how to provide it. A dedication to quality food, gracious service and reasonable prices resulted in steady growth. Balch enlarged the restaurant three times to accommodate the local families and tourists eager to enjoy his hospitality.
After nearly 20 years of operating Connie's, the Balches started looking for a buyer who would continue the tradition. Bill Bowman was managing the Carnation Company's wholesale operations in the Spokane area, but was looking for a business of his own. Hearing from a friend in July of 1972 that Connie's might be available, he immediately began discussions. Connie wasn't interested in selling to just anyone, but Bowman persisted, and in November of that year, Bill and Lorraine Bowman bought Connie's Café. The Balches "retired to their 520-acre ranch in the Wrenco Loop area to tend a crop of 75.000 Christmas trees.
Legend has it that the Bowman's wanted to change the restaurant's name until they learned that revising the sign would cost $14,000.00. Suddenly, "Connie's" sounded pretty good.
Under Bowman's management, Connie's continued to thrive and grow. They treated both customers and staff well, and many of their employees worked at Connie's for decades.
Bill and Lorraine acquired the lot just east of the restaurant in 1980 and built the first part of Connie's Motor Inn, applying the same philosophy of excellence to the lodging business that had proven so successful at the restaurant. The expansion across Fourth Street took place in the late 1980's.
In 1994 Connie's was sold to Hospitality Associates, who still operates the motel. Hospitality Associates leased the restaurant from 1997 until February 2007 to Sand-Ida Services who elected not to renew their lease at that time and the restaurant closed.
Connie's new owners re-opened the cafe in May of 2007 and closed it in December 2008.
David and Penny Libbey purchased Connie's in April of 2009 and decided to remodel and upgrade the café. The Libbey's are dedicated to Sandpoint's iconic restaurant, and are committed to providing affordable, quality meals in a friendly atmosphere. Dave and Penny come froman extensive restaurant background opening their first of seven restaurants in 1985 in Portland, Oregon. The Libbey's want to continue the Connie's Café concept to provide coffee house atmosphere and prices with dinner house quality. Although it has weathered changes and face-lifts, Connie's quality food and unique atmosphere will endure.
Please join us for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Connie's is ready to welcome you again.