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Penny's Pit in Rathdrum serves burgers with a side of celebrity

click to enlarge CARRIE SCOZZARO
  • Carrie Scozzaro

Penny's Pit Pub & Lounge operates out of what was once a video store sandwiched between a car wash, laundromat, Dashco convenience store and gas station. On Highway 53 where the upper Rathdrum prairie turns north into lake and pine country, Penny's Pit is actually named for owners Ryan and Christina Klundt's pit bull.

Back when Penny's was a video store, Penny the pit bull chilled with (pictures of) Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and other cool cats whose image still adorn the walls. But with video business declining, explains Christina from behind the bar, she and husband Ryan queried nearby Dashco owner Kevin Randles. He suggested they "do something with beer."

But what's a pub without food? Klundt parlayed her prior work experience at another Rathdrum-based favorite, Burger Heaven (since passed on to the restaurant kingdom in the sky). She enlisted her father, Dave Swaving, to cook.

Penny's serves salads, wings, and similar grub, plus burgers named for screen icons: John Wayne with pepper jack ($7.19), the Classic Marilyn cheeseburger ($6.99), the Bogart smothered in chili and cheese ($7.99). The 6-inch tall Gosman ($12.59), invented by a regular customer, is two patties, each topped with pepper jack and bacon; jalapeno; onion rings; buffalo sauce; a fried egg; and bleu cheese dressing.

My more manageable Presley Melt ($7.99) was a tender, flame-broiled burger topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese. A $5 special, the Melt comes with fries or — well worth 75¢ more — onion rings. Even better: a side of battered fries topped with gooey Parmesan and garlic ($4.99/$5.99).

Happy hour (4-7 pm daily) means dollar-off drafts and 50¢ wings, so my budget allowed for a red beer (choose V8 or Clamato); still, the bill was well under $10.

With two tables (prime train-watching location), a kid-friendly menu and the recent addition of ice cream shakes, this is one North Idaho pit stop worth making soon. ♦

Penny's Pit Pub & Lounge • 14319 Hwy. 53, Rathdrum, Idaho • Open Mon-Thu, noon–9 pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10 pm • • (208) 687-2052

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