Family, community, and a dream come true By Abigail Thorpe | Photo By Sara Grace Photography
It was almost too good to be true when Chad and Meggie Foust pulled into the parking lot at Holiday Shores Marina back in October 2010. The couple had learned there was a waterfront restaurant opportunity in Hope, Idaho, and made the trip out from Seattle to check it out. Chad had worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and this was the chance to finally run their own restaurant while raising their son Lou in a beautiful small town close to family and friends. The family moved to Sandpoint in March 2011, and Sweet Lou’s was born. Today, the Fousts are celebrating the soon-to-open third location of Sweet Lou’s, serving up some delicious homemade American fare with a heart for the communities they live, work and serve.
Meggie recently served on the board of the Panhandle Animal Shelter, while Chad has been active on the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce board and North Idaho College Foundation board. Both have volunteered for numerous nonprofits and organizations including Distinguished Young Women, Sandpoint Little League, the Long Bridge Swim and the Sandpoint Sharks Swim Team.
Q. What’s the story behind Sweet Lou’s, and how did you get started in the business? A. The first Sweet Lou’s Restaurant—named after our son—opened in April 2011. Our concept is simple—we offer our favorite homemade American fare dishes, served with a good drink, while welcoming the entire family in for lunch or dinner. Sweet Lou’s pretty much covers the bases at our house—good food, good drink and a good game on in a family friendly atmosphere. We are casual people, but that doesn’t mean our expectations for good food should be below par. We pride ourselves in offering familiar American fare entrees that we take to the next level with fresh ingredients and creative twists.
Q. What vision do you have for Sweet Lou’s in the community, and how is this already playing out? A. We are proud to be part of the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene communities. Meggie was born and raised in Coeur d’Alene and is thrilled to be able to give back to the community that provided her with a solid education and a safe environment to learn and grow. Our goal is to be able to give back to the communities as much as possible, focusing on areas that are near and dear to our hearts. This includes animal shelters, public education and youth sports.
Q. What has been the best part of being a business owner here in Sandpoint, particularly in the restaurant industry? A. Working in the restaurant industry in Sandpoint has provided us the opportunity to meet a wide variety of great people. From our guests to our employees to our vendors, we are constantly making new friends and building strong relationships throughout the community.
Another perk of working in the restaurant industry is being able to share in guests’ special occasions. It’s been an honor to be able to host birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations.
Q. You were awarded Finest Burger for Sandpoint Living Local’s Finest 2021. What does that mean to you? A. We were excited to earn the award for Finest Burger, and it was really great to share the news with our team in the kitchen. We are very proud of every dish we serve, and it is exciting to be recognized for the hard work and dedication our team provides every day.
It’s especially nice to win knowing the votes were from locals in our community—it’s an honor to know our customers recognize and enjoy quality burgers that we serve.
Q. What exciting things are currently underway for Sweet Lou's? A. The biggest news we have these days is the opening of our third location in Athol. This project has been a long time in the making, and it’s the first time we’ve ever opened a restaurant from the ground up. It’s very exciting to have an opportunity to expand in the North Idaho market—Athol is conveniently located almost exactly between our Coeur d’Alene and Ponderay locations.
We’ve taken everything we’ve learned to love, and hate, from the Hope, Ponderay and Coeur d’Alene locations and designed the Athol location to be extremely comfortable for our guests and productive for our team. We have had input on every detail with expert help from Miller Stauffer Architecture.
Q. What would you say is a "favorite" item on the menu? A. Our most popular item is our Fish and Chips with hand-battered cod in our own batter recipe. However, if Chad had to pick his favorite item—he says it’s either the Chicken Fried Steak or the Bison ribs.
The popular Bacon Mac and Cheese is in honor of our favorite restaurant in Georgetown (South Seattle) called Calamity Jane’s. They gave us the idea of tomatoes and mushrooms, but we added bacon to ours.
The Kids Plate is in honor of Lou. When he was a toddler, he obviously wasn’t interested in the salads I was making for dinner. Instead, he was treated to a deconstructed salad, which is exactly what the Kid Plate is made of—all the good ingredients, minus the spinach greens. It’s a great option for parents dining with kids.
Q. Is there a specific person or moment that has helped inspire you and your journey? A. Any chance we get to sneak away from the restaurants and enjoy all that Sandpoint has to offer is an opportunity for us to reflect on why we made the leap of faith to move over here and inspires us to keep working hard. Whether it’s a family ski day at Schweitzer or enjoying time on beautiful Lake Pend Oreille—we always pause in gratitude to the fact that we get to live here. The journey and the long days/nights at the restaurants are so worth it!
Q. What’s been a key moment from the past year, something that you look back on with pride/joy/thankfulness? A. This has been a big year for us—especially after the chaos of 2020. Breaking ground in Athol to begin the journey of our third location was pretty epic. We’ll never forget that.