In November, we ran an article about Ted’s Montana Grill, noting that, even though travel blog Thrillist named Ted’s the most recognized brand in Montana, the chain had been started in Ohio and only had one outpost in Montana. In response, a representative from TruePoint Agency contacted us, on behalf of Ted’s Montana Grill, offering a tour of their Durham, North Carolina location and a free bison sampling meal.
Durham is home to Ted’s only North Carolina location, which is managed by Don Knepper, who gave us a tour of the restaurant.
At this location, and most others, the floors are made of real hickory and the booths, which form a capsule that provides a small amount of privacy, are made from mahogany. Each booth also contains a small mirror, making the space seem larger. Above the booths hang paintings created by famed Wild West artist Albert Bierstadt. On each table, an old West map made from recycled paper acts as a tablecloth.
Hanging prominently in the center of the restaurant is the iconic bison head, a beautiful work of taxidermy that’s hung in each Ted’s location. However, each restaurant is different, as the chain doesn’t have a fixed floor plan for new locations to follow. To open the average Ted’s, it costs around $200 extra per square foot than a typical casual-dining restaurant.
In the kitchen, you won’t find a microwave or freezer- just a giant walk-in cooler that is home to all of the beef and bison served at Ted’s. Once an order comes in, the meat is ground; nothing is ever prepared before the customer orders. To lock in flavor when cooking their world-famous bison burgers, a plastic dome is placed over the pattie. As for the french fries, the restaurant uses real Idaho potatoes, doesn’t use any spices except for salt, and has separate fryers that are completely gluten-free. In fact, Ted’s makes just about everything fresh, made-to-order. The only thing they don’t make is the cheesecake.
Sit to dine and you won’t be greeted by TV’s (there’s only one in the whole restaurant) but rather by wise old West figures like Buffalo Bill and John Wayne, via the recyclable coaster that holds your drink. And when you go to drink your beverage, you’ll be slurping through a paper straw, manufactured by the Aardvark Straw Company. Ted Turner, co-founder of Ted’s Montana Grill, helped keep this company afloat when he promised to use their eco-friendly products at all Ted’s locations. Turner also claims to be the nation’s biggest landowner and owns thousands of bison near his Montana ranch.
Every to-go order is packaged in container made from corn starch, rather than Styrofoam which doesn’t decompose. Ted’s prides themselves on being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious; they’re 90% green and almost everything is recycled or recyclable.
One odd thing that sets Ted’s apart is the Boraxo soap used in their bathrooms. The soap, manufactured by Dial, is made from Borax, so it is powdered and grainy, which enables it to clean your pores. After a long scrub, the soap rinses off in water. Ted’s bathrooms also contain dual-flush toilets, which flush at different levels to save water.