Ted Presley was sitting with his buddy Joe Rango in the oil fields of Alaska a few years ago when they struck on an idea.
They decided to open their own restaurant in the Lower 48. They chose Spokane after Presley’s wife moved here to get away from the boredom of rural Alaska.
Said Presley, “We were bummed out about being up there so many years. So Joe says, ‘We got to do something.”’
They had worked as cooks on the North Slope, and learned a lot about the likes and dislikes of hearty eaters on the tundra.
So they tapped their knowledge to open a new restaurant on North Division called Fingers.
The name is different, and so is the food. Presley said he and Rango didn’t want to serve hamburgers or tacos. He said they wanted to offer a quality product that customers could enjoy at a reasonable price.
Located at the site of a former taco joint at 3422 N. Division, Fingers specializes in deep-fried finger steaks done Oriental-style with beef, pork or chicken. They also have kebabs and specialty sandwiches.
“It’s upscale fast-food,” said Presley, 44.
He and Rango hope their concept is successful enough to become a springboard for a franchise chain. They are operating as the Way-Whit-Land Corp.
Everything on the menu was tested in the rigors of icy Alaska. Oil field workers were fed the creations, Presley said, mostly because they are brutally honest taste testers.
“If they don’t like it, they aren’t afraid to tell you,” Presley said.
The result is a menu guaranteed to please a driller.
The question is: can it please Spokane?
Presley said he is using choice flank steak and tenderloin pork and frying the finger steaks in a healthy vegetable oil and serving them with a choice of sauces.
He’s also offering a chicken sandwich in a sweet roll bun that’s made with a touch of curry and green onion.
For seafood lovers, the menu includes halibut fingers, too, and dieters can enjoy a gourmet salad.
For dessert, Presley is selling something he calls “thumbs,” a small buttermilk chocolate cake with cream filling and chocolate icing.
Presley said he wants to keep his offerings manageable, so don’t expect to see any toes on the menu anytime soon.