Q&A with Mel Dick, Sandpoint Rotary Club Member and Restaurateur By Abigail Thorpe
Melvin Dick grew up on a farm in South Dakota, where he attended college before he and his wife Claudia moved several times—from South Dakota to Milwaukee and then Denver—before discovering their North Idaho home. The couple fell in love with Sandpoint’s small-town charm and the beauty and offerings of North Idaho, and moved here in 2002.
Chances are you’ve run into Mel downtown, whether it’s at one of his businesses (he’s the co-owner of some Sandpoint favorites like the 219) or at one of the various community organizations he is actively involved in. In his free time, you’ll find him bike riding, hiking, and spending time with his family and friends—in 2020 he even rode his bike 5,000 miles cross-country from Sandpoint to Key West to raise money for youth services in Sandpoint, a story well worth the listen if you get the chance.
Q. What do you love most about this town?
A. I love the small-town atmosphere of Sandpoint. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. We have a very "giving" community that supports each other. The town has a mountain resort kind of feel to it that we really like, but at the same time it has more than just being a resort or mountain ski town. We grew up in a small town, Sandpoint is quite a bit bigger than where we grew up, [but] it reminded us a lot of the small-town atmosphere.
Q. In what ways are you involved in the community, and what inspires you to give back and be a part of making our community strong?
A. Over the years I have been involved in several different community organizations including The Panhandle Alliance for Education, The Chamber of Commerce and the Sandpoint Rotary Club. I believe the strength of any community starts with good schools and quality health care. Sandpoint excels in both areas. Our public and private education ranks with the best, and our doctors, dentists and health care facilities provide excellent care, on par or better than any major city we have lived in. I'm inspired by the actions of others in the community, many who give tirelessly to help others and to make Sandpoint the incredible place it is today.
Q. What are you most excited to see happen in the future for Sandpoint, and how do you hope to be a part of that?
A. It is exciting to see the growth that has taken place during the 20-plus years we have been in the community. At the same time, that growth comes with many challenges ranging from housing to infrastructure needs. I plan on continuing to be active in various community organizations and business as our community continues to grow and develop.
Q. CHAFE 150 is happening this month. How are you involved this year, and what are you most looking forward to?
A. The Sandpoint Rotary Club's annual CHAFE 150 bicycle ride is on June 18, 2022. I am a member of the organizing committee and am looking forward to a great ride this year. With routes of 150, 100, 80, 40, 25 miles and a Family Fun Ride, the ride has a route for every level of experience. I always look forward to the community-wide after-ride party at City Beach. All members of the community are invited to join the riders for great food, a beer and wine garden, and fun activities for the kids riding the Family Fun Ride.
Q. What is a favorite memory or experience you have over your many years of being involved with CHAFE 150?
A. The first memory would be finishing the 150-mile ride several years ago. I think working with the volunteers that put the ride on has been a lot of fun. [I have] lots of memories associated with that. Being selected the number three charity ride by Bicycle Magazine, that was a highlight—and several of the after-ride parties down at City Beach (the weather has been incredibly nice), I have some fond memories of those after-ride parties. In 2019 I got to meet the paralympic gold medalist for cycling because he actually rode in the ride, and that was quite something to meet him and talk to him.
Q. Having lived in Sandpoint for many years, what piece of advice would you share with people to help get involved and make the most of our community here?
A. There are many ways to become active in the community. Seek out opportunities to help others in areas that you have a personal interest or passion. Enjoy everything our community has ranging from great businesses and community organizations to incredible outdoor activities that are available in Northern Idaho.
Q. Any particular person or experience who has influenced you most and helped shape how you approach work and life?
A. There are many who have influenced and inspired me over the years. I was blessed to have a supportive family, good lifelong friends and outstanding mentors. Growing up on a farm probably influenced me more than anything. It taught me to make the best of what you have, to enjoy the outdoors, the rewards of working hard and to recognize the good in everything, no matter how challenging or difficult it may be.