An avalanche is a nightmare for a skier but for the Griffiths family, it's a dream come true.
The Avalanche, a family-style restaurant and ice cream parlor in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland, is owned by Garry and Shanna Griffiths and their children, Amber, Joshua and Jacob Griffiths, and business partner Gaylan Norman, all of the Tri-Cities.
Two of the couple's children, Joshua and Amber, have experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Joshua's been cooking since he was 7, when his mother, Shanna, exasperated by his picky eating, handed him a cookbook and told him to go ahead, make his own food. He has worked as a cook at Callaway Gardens and, along with Amber, at Nothing But Noodles but has always wanted a place of his own, said his father.
That dream came true this summer when the storefront of the former Samovar restaurant and bakery became available. "We all sat down and put together a business plan and menu," Garry said.
The menu was the easy part. "We knew we wanted all-American, home-style cooking. That's our niche," he said.
And they fill it, and their customers, well, serving such favorites like meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches, and a variety of soups from scratch including Joshua's signature soup, chicken corn chowder.
Joshua cooks from scratch, even making his own barbecue sauces and the honey-butter that goes with the fry bread, also known as Indian fry bread.
"That's a great hit with our customers," Garry said. "Older people who come, in their 60s and older, come in and say, 'Wow, I haven't had fry bread in 30 years.' "
It's bread dough flattened into a plate-size disk and deep fried. "Just like a donut but without all the sugar," Garry said.
Amber's their baker and Jacob is the fry cook. Even Garry, who has a courier business, Couriers Plus, lends a hand in the kitchen and with deliveries.
The family kept the log cabin look of the former Russian restaurant, adding their own touches, like skis, to the walls.
"It's just like being at a cabin or lodge," he said.
And their menu reflects that feeling. Order the trout -- it's a full pound -- and you get the choice of having it served head on, or head off. "Just like camping," he said.
But it's their dessert menu that really takes you back to nights spent around the campfire.
"We serve s'mores, peach and blackberry cobbler made in a Dutch oven and The Avalanche," Garry said.
The Avalanche is a two-pound brownie topped with 11/2 inches of rocky road ice cream. That's topped with one of their oversized chocolate chip cookies and then three-quarters of a gallon of vanilla ice cream. The crowning touch is a generous drizzle of fudge and caramel sauces, a handful of nuts and a dollop of whipped cream.
It weighs 9 pounds and is 16-inches tall.
"We challenge people, if you can eat it yourself in one hour, it's free," Garry said.
If you're not up to the challenge there's always the Bunny Slope. The same ingredients but smaller.
The Avalanche Restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is in the Uptown Shopping Center at 1340 Jadwin Ave., Richland.
The restaurant phone number is 509-420-4016.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org