Let’s say you’re looking for a great breakfast, but not a long wait for a table. That takes most of downtown Missoula off the menu. Instead, head to the other end of town, to the Russell Square plaza at the bottom of the South Hills off Higgins. Figuring out that a restaurant called the Breakfast Club caters to a mostly morning crowd shouldn’t be tough, nor should the origin of the name, at least if you had a pulse in the ’80s.
The sign over the door sets the theme with the iconic roll-credits silhouette of Judd Nelson, a.k.a. John Bender, a.k.a. the criminal of John Hughes’ most classic of classics, fist raised, greeting you.
Inside, the menu on the wall keeps the specialties of the house — breakfast burritos — on theme. The Brain, the Princess, the Criminal, the Athlete and the Basket Case are all there.
“My favorite is the chorizo,” says owner Justin Crippen. He’s referring to the Janitor, a.k.a. The Carl). “He’s the best part of the movie for sure,” according to Crippen, and it’s been his personal go-to since he opened up shop in mid-April last year. “I take chorizo, green chile sauce, chipotle sour cream and over-easy eggs and put it together… my God that shit is so good.”
It’s not an empty brag. The pint-sized burrito also contains black beans and hash browns. The two runny yolks prompt the need for a “bite and suck” maneuver to keep it off your shirt.
The others — there are 14 options, plus daily specials — are equally daunting in size, cost less than $9 and are ready in minutes.
“We realize who we are. We’re fast-casual,” Crippen said. “We’re making it right in front of you. That’s what we want you to know: When you get in line, when you order, you’re watching us make your food.”
The model works. There’s hardly ever a line — but not because there’s a lot of downtime here. The Breakfast Club is rarely empty. Crippen estimates it serves roughly 115 burritos a day during its 6 a.m.- 2 p.m. day (the Breakfast Club opens at 7 a.m. on weekends).
They may not be as fancy as the sushi tray Molly Ringwald brought to detention in 1985, but they do scratch an itch much bigger than nostalgia.