Open & Shut: Anchorage gets a second Tommy’s Burger Stop and a tortilleria, and The Bridge plans reopening

A well-established Greek restaurant moves to South Anchorage while downtown welcomes an art studio and a photography gallery. The Quilt Tree is closing, and the Chicken Shack won’t reopen. And in Indian, a new restaurant focusing on fresh seafood has opened its doors.

Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Alex DeMarban at with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.


TurnAgains: This spacious restaurant on the edge of Turnagain Arm off the Seward Highway opened in April.

Co-owner Matthew Cronquist’s goal is dishing up healthy plates of fresh Alaska seafood and other meals, he said.

Cronquist said he’s had trouble hiring enough workers because of the state’s labor shortage, but family and friends have pitched in to help.

TurnAgains is open on weekend days so far, noon to 7 p.m. He plans to open on weekdays soon. It’s located about halfway between Anchorage and Girdwood, in Indian, at 27957 Seward Highway.

The halibut sandwich and the halibut fish and chips have been popular, along with the broccoli chop salad, he said.

“And we are crushing it on the oysters,” Cronquist said.

Tim and Bari Cabana of Girdwood are also co-owners after they purchased the building. The Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ restaurant closed there a couple of years ago. Their sons, Barren and Tanner Cabana, help bartend.


The Cabana family fishes commercially for salmon in Prince William Sound, so they’ll provide some of the restaurant’s fresh fish starting this summer.

They plan to open a seafood market and art gallery in the restaurant, next to the large bar area. The market will sell salmon fillets and other seafood, including halibut and cod, said Tim Cabana.

Cronquist got his culinary start a decade ago in high school. He said he trained under chefs at the King Career Center in Anchorage, now known as King Tech.

Later, he helped open two restaurants in Colorado after graduating from a second culinary school there. He moved back home to Alaska a few years ago.

“I’m so grateful to the Cabana family for allowing me to present my craft, and to the community for supporting this,” he said. “I’m just a young kid stepping into big shoes. The Cabana family has given me the opportunities.”

TortillaWorks: Justin Curran started selling his homemade tortillas a year ago at the Spenard Farmers Market and other outdoor venues.

Sales took off. He once sold several thousand tortillas in a single day at the Spenard market, a whole truckload, he said.

“People love fresh tortillas,” he said.

That success led Curran to open the TortillaWorks storefront in Midtown Anchorage.

Curran sells several varieties of hand-pressed flour tortillas. The options include his Southwest tortillas, made with chiles, garlic and cumin, as well as cheesy garlic tortillas and chocolate tortillas. He also sells tortillas made with curry.

He plans to make corn tortillas in the future, including with blue nixtamalized corn. In that process, the maize is soaked in a limestone-and-water solution, he said. It helps create a tastier, stronger tortilla.

He sells out of tortillas on most days, and recently sold 600 on a single weekday, he said.


Curran said he got his passion for tortillas growing up in Texas when he loved to visit tortillerias. He said he’s lived in Alaska for about 15 years and got tired of not having fresh tortillas. So he left his job as an engineer for a rural Alaska utility cooperative, and decided to make tortillas himself.

“It’s just in me to do this,” he said.

Opening a tortilleria is “something I’ve always wanted to try since I was young,” he said.

The shop isn’t a restaurant, Curran said. But he serves basic dishes, such as chicken, beef or potato tacos, using the fresh tortillas, with a side of rice and beans. The meals come with his homemade salsas.

“The menu is small but everything I’m doing is just fresh and from scratch,” he said. “I basically want to support my tortillas.”

The tortilleria is located in the former Monster Pizza location, at 343 W. Benson Blvd. It’s generally open from noon to 8 p.m., six days a week.


It’s also open on Sundays for a few hours, sometime between 3 and 8 p.m., he said. The small opening on Sunday gives him a chance to catch up while customers can grab their tortillas for the week. Customers can track the TortillaWorks social media site for Sunday hours, he said.

The Bridge Co.: This restaurant over Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage will open to dine-in this summer for the first time since mid-2021, when the pandemic was in full swing.

Business partners Skye Nevada and Lexa Gokey are responsible for the change. Last year they purchased the former Bridge Seafood restaurant after working there for several years. Nevada was a longtime server and manager, and Gokey the executive chef.

They changed the name to The Bridge Co. to emphasize that it serves more than seafood, though they’ll continue to specialize in it, Nevada said.

The restaurant will also provide catering as it’s done for years, including on remote excursions in Alaska. The catering has happened on a catamaran in Prince William Sound or atop Spencer Glacier near Portage after a helicopter ride, among other outings, Nevada said.

The reopening for dine-in starts June 1, exactly one year after the purchase, Nevada said. It ends on Aug. 31. Dine-in will be available Thursday through Saturday, from 4:30 to 10 p.m., Nevada said.


“The Bridge is under new ownership, but we maintain the same quality and freshness,” she said. “We’re really trying to elevate the experience of fine dining in Alaska.”

The Bridge is unique. It’s built atop a century-old railroad bridge above Ship Creek that connected the Alaska court system with other parts of the state, Nevada said. Diners can watch anglers casting lines in the creek, along with bird spotters, bikers and others.

A group of investors and chefs built the modern structure about 20 years and launched the first iteration of a Bridge restaurant, she said. The railroad ties are still visible in the floor throughout the restaurant.

A second group of owners closed the eatery to summer dining in 2021, after the pandemic derailed tourism in Alaska, Nevada said.

The Bridge will continue to serve halibut and salmon with the right amount of seasoning and sauces, to highlight the flavor of fresh-cooked fish, Nevada said. It also serves roasted Cornish game hens, a center-cut New York steak, Alaska king crab bisque, and a plant-based “surf and turf” dish with mushrooms seared like a steak and oyster mushrooms cooked like scallops.

Desserts include Alaska rhubarb raspberry curd tarts, a modern twist of the strawberry rhubarb crisp served by the former restaurant.

The Bridge buys as much food as possible from “local farmers, growers and fisherpeople,” Nevada said. It serves all palates, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

It’s already taking reservations. It’s located at 221 W. Ship Creek Ave., near the Alaska Railroad headquarters and the Don Young Port of Alaska.


Tommy’s Burger Stop: The landmark burger joint in Spenard has opened a second spot in South Anchorage.

Tommy Persons said he’d long thought about opening another Tommy’s, but finding the right spot over the years was tough.

Enter Beverly Groskreutz, his fiance. The couple met through a fondness for road biking a couple of years ago, Persons said.

“I couldn’t do it by myself,” Persons said. “She found the new spot. She made it happen.”

That new spot is at the former Elim Cafe at 561 W. Dimond Blvd., just northwest of the South Anchorage Costco.

The site features much more seating than the Spenard Tommy’s, something patrons had long sought, Persons said.

But it serves the same fare, including the burgers with grass-fed Australian beef. Those have often been recognized as the best around, according to various media outlets.

All the burgers are big sellers, Persons said. But notable ones include the Sweet Charlotte, a mushroom Swiss burger with avocado, and the R.L.E Hello, with two patties plus bacon and cheese, grilled mushrooms, onions and jalapeno peppers. Black bean burgers for vegetarians are a highlight too, he said.

Tommy’s also sells po’boys and Philly cheesesteaks, along with milkshakes made from ice cream, like the Fruity Pebbles shake, which has the namesake cereal blended in.

Their menu also features dessert items, some of them based on family recipes served at the Double Musky Inn restaurant in Girdwood owned by Tommy’s parents, Bob and Deanna Persons. They include the Double Musky pie, a cracker-meringue crusted double fudge brownie.

Mythic Alaska: Artist Tara Cox and her husband opened this downtown studio after selling their products at outdoor markets in recent years.

Mythic Alaska sells Cox’s artwork, such as original acrylic paintings, and items such as hoodies, caps and gift cards adorned with Cox’s fanciful takes on Alaska wildlife. The creations include a surfing “Hang Loose Moose,” a soaring bear with butterfly wings, and a skateboarding Otter named Ollie.

Husband Hans Clark also sells his Fat Gandalf beard products of washes, balms and oils.

“I’ve always been thinking of a permanent location for my work, and this space came open at the right time, and we decided to take the plunge,” Cox said.

Mythic Alaska is located near the Captain Cook at 430 K St. The shop is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed on Sundays.

In winter, the couple plans to trim hours. But they plan to offer art workshops, meditation events and adult coloring nights in the shop’s coloring lounge.

It will be a “fun, colorful place for people to relax in the winter,” she said.

Meraki Hellenic Grill: This Greek restaurant has moved to South Anchorage.

Owner Fredo Garcia said it sells items such as moussaka made with layers of eggplant and tomato meat sauce, skewered chicken souvlaki and pork gyros. The menu also includes lamb and beef kebabs and doner kebabs on special, cooked on a rotisserie.

He and his wife, Adamantia, are also expanding the menu, adding many non-grilled items such as pastitsio, often described as Greek lasagna, and other specials.

The couple originally launched Meraki in Kodiak as Sparrow’s restaurant. They later moved to Eagle River and named it Meraki Hellenic Grill.

During the pandemic, Meraki moved to a pop-up site in Anchorage off Boniface Parkway, where it shared a space for a few months with another restaurant.

Now, it finally has its own spot at 12870 Old Seward Highway, next door to Southside Grill.

The couple has long wanted to operate in South Anchorage, so the move is the right step, Garcia said.

Garcia is originally from the U.S. but in 1990 moved to Greece, where he met Adamantia. They moved to Alaska in 2011 and opened Sparrow’s.

Meraki is open from noon to 7 p.m. each day except Monday, when it’s closed. The hours will soon expand to 9 p.m.

KAR Photography Gallery and Gifts: Kate and Adam Rice opened this downtown gallery to diversify the income they get from their photography-focused tours that include bear viewing in remote Alaska.

If an economic slowdown ever hurts those tours, they can still sell items at the shop, said Adam Rice.

“During COVID in the tourism industry, we saw how feast or famine things can get,” he said. “Something big like that can affect your entire season, so we felt we should diversify and have a storefront.”

Adam Rice said the couple got hooked on the bear tours after visiting Katmai National Park in Alaska several years ago. He said he left his career in aerospace manufacturing to pursue their passion.

KAR Photography Gallery and Gifts sells the couple’s wildlife and landscape portraits, as well as greeting cards, magnets, pillows and other items.

The shop is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It’s located near the corner of Fourth Avenue and D Street, near Sara’s Gift Cache, at 400 W. Fourth Ave. The Black Diamond equipment store had previously been in the spot.


The Quilt Tree: This Midtown Anchorage fabric shop is closing this month after 27 years.

Quilt Tree was known for its wide selection of fabrics from around the world, said Carol Prosser, who owned the shop along with her daughter, Brandy Bland, and longtime employee Sarah Klever.

The owners are ready to retire or move to onto other things, Prosser said. “It’s just time,” she said. “Things have changed.”

Operating the business had gotten more challenging in recent years, as shipping became difficult and prices rose during the pandemic, she said.

But the shop survived in part because it was the rare retail store that did not suffer as shoppers went online, she said. Quilters need to see the fabrics to understand how several panels would come together.

“And customers just love fabric,” she said. “We tried throughout our history to have something for almost everyone, because just like clothing, it’s a personal taste, the kind of fabrics you like. We worked very hard to make an eclectic variety of choices.”

The shop also survived the pandemic thanks to loyal customers, she said.

Plus, “people were making masks by the gross,” she said.

But a larger trend developed that affected sales. People are working more these days, even older people who like to quilt, and they have less time for hobbies, she said.

Still, the store retained a loyal following. Its longtime employees were known for generously sharing expert quilting advice, she said.

“You can’t do this to us,” many customers have said about the closing, she said.

“We made a lot of friends along the way and it’s kind of bittersweet to close,” she said. “But you do have to close sometime.”

Chicken Shack: This restaurant in Midtown Anchorage closed this winter, but it won’t reopen this summer as originally planned.

Owner Shana Whitlock said she needed to take care of her mother, who has dementia.

Her mom’s health, plus difficulty finding and keeping workers as the state faces a labor shortage, changed her reopening plans, she said in an email.

“It is with a heavy heart I decided to pull the plug on Chicken Shack and focus my energies on my family and further my professional developments in a healthier work-life scenario,” she said.

“I am incredibly grateful to the community for their support through the years,” Whitlock said.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or