Next Steps in Island Park, ID

Next Steps in Island Park, ID

What's next on the A-Bar property.

  • By: Fly Rod and Reel
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We could call this a recessionary tale. In 2008, WorldCast Anglers initiated the purchase of the A-Bar property from Korre Thompson and LoAnne Strandburg. The company, which had earlier purchased the Hyde Outfitters property across the highway from the A-Bar and now operates a fly shop at that location, had plans to keep a version of the A-Bar open, the goal being to preserve the much-needed social nucleus of Island Park—fly-fishers looked forward a little A-Bar time after a day on the Henry’s Fork. WCA (worldcastanglers.com) also offers outfitting services on the Henry’s Fork, Teton and South Fork of the Snake, as well as in Yellowstone Park.

“Before we bought the A-Bar in the winter of 2008, I was a frequent visitor to both the Henry’s Fork and the bar. I was fortunate to experience the aura and allure of the A-Bar. The tradition and the role that the A-Bar played in the unique community of Island Park—and the community of Henry’s Fork enthusiasts—is what got me interested in becoming a part of the business…. The location was interesting, but it was that aura that was intriguing to me,” says Geordie Gillett, managing partner of WorldCast Anglers (WCA). “Our presence in Island Park was imminent so we were asking, ‘How do we proceed with this?’ The A-Bar had been on the market for a while, and it had the liquor license, room to expand—not crazy expansion, but room for cabins and maybe to put in a deck with a view of the river.

“We found electrical problems and other concerns, so we saw that renovating would be much more work than re-building. And in good conscience we just couldn’t re-open the A-Bar with the building concerns we had,” Gillett continues. “We probably spent about the first two months (of ownership) trying to retrofit the place but when you have roof issues and electrical issues you almost have to start from scratch.”
The recession put re-building plans on hold, and the A-Bar now sits closed. “We got jammed up on the timing. It hurts even more to see it closed being a fan and knowing the role the A-Bar played in the community and the symbolism of it. We want to get going as soon as possible and honor what the place represented,” Gillett says.

One possibility is a temporary watering hole in the Hyde building across the street. “We have a liquor license,” Gillett says, “and we’ve talked about a low-key kind of place where we’d tap a keg and people could just hang out. An informal bar to maintain some kind of continuity. Maybe we’d call it ‘Plan B?’ One way or another, we’re going to do something.”

That something will lean toward the understated and unobtrusive, Gillett stresses, not a mega-lodge. “It’s all about traditions, friends, nature—and then you have the Henry’s Fork. We’re really glad to be a part of it,” he says.

The Editors