Dive into the heart of community in Denali. Be a part of the local, independent hot spot. Love what you do.
community . adventure . connection . love . wellness . balance . authenticity . good vibes . eat + be nurtured . SCRATCH KITCHEN ::: CRAFT COFFEE ::: FRESH PASTRIES
Black Bear is located 1/2 mile north of the entrance to Denali National Park, in interior Alaska.
About The Black Bear
The Black Bear has been a woman-owned, local, independent, small business in the heart of Denali since its conception in 1997. For over 25 years, Black Bear has been the living room of Denali. It's the place to linger, indulge, people watch, meet friends and make new ones. Our dynamic staff cultivates the magnetic vibe that breeds our beloved community.
Our season runs mid-May through mid-September, when everyone takes dream vacations to The Wilderness. Black Bear is a casual counter-service restaurant, serving brunch and dinner as well as local coffee, beer, and wine. Sourcing proteins and produce locally, supporting local farmers and bringing the highest quality products to the table are core values. Our brunch menu is set with a sustainable, high volume, scratch fare, peppered with specials. And we spur collective creativity with a team built weekend dinner menu that changes weekly, and features the bounty harvested from local farms. We have an in-house bakery, featuring rustic pastries, both conventional and alternative (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, no refined sugar). We bake all of our own menu breads. Most of what we offer is available gluten-free. And we have excellent options for vegans and those eating clean. We are the go-to spot for people wanting food crafted from scratch.
As for coffee, we are THE coffee house in Denali. In fact, Black Bear was chosen as 'BEST COFFEE SHOP IN ALASKA' by Food Network as well as one of the "TOP 25 COFFEE HOUSES IN THE US" by Trips to Discover magazine. Our coffee was voted 'BEST COFFEE IN ALASKA' by Food and Wine magazine. We source locally roasted coffees from Steam Dot Coffee Co. in Anchorage, and are stoked to offer many directly traded coffees with real stories from farmers and co-ops all over the world. We also serve smoothies, shakes, tea, local kombucha, Alaskan beers, and wine.
To say we are busy is an understatement. Once the season gets rolling, we have a line out the door most days. That means that we need people who know how to work and love the thrill of being slammed and riding the wave of the energy that it brings.
We are known for our customer service. Check out our reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp: awesome, happy staff... delicious food and pastries... genuine vibes... great service.
The Employee Experience
Something happens to you when you work at the Black Bear. People start smiling at you because they remember your face from their favorite place. You make friends with all the cool kids who want to go on adventures with you. Random people want to know your life story. You actually want to hang out with your co-workers while you are not working. And your mind is totally blown by the amazing beauty that surrounds you. You will never be the same again.
Denali is pretty magical, in general. It's this epic little island of wilderness. Everyone is nestled together in the middle of nowhere. It's not that easy to leave, so it lends to a feeling of being quite isolated from “civilization”. That said, it's a very lively place. There is amazing energy coursing through this land of the midnight sun, throughout the summer months. And not just energy from the sun. It's the people. The unique thing about being in a new place with so many new people is the possibility. Adventures abound. Relationships blossom. Experiences transcend. There are fewer barriers between people so the opportunity for connection is ripe. And it's a beautiful thing. That's Denali in general. The Black Bear is unique because it fosters this specifically. The connection is important to us.
As for the Black Bear experience... you will work hard, and enjoy your job. You will probably like most of the people you work with. We aim to hire culturally like-minded people who mesh well as a team. Everyone is in it together. At Black Bear, we really strive to create an ethical, healthy work environment and try to do away with the old systems of toxic restaurant culture. It can be a very intense work environment, but respect and communication is emphasized from the top down.
Black Bear has two owners: Becki Klauss and Adam Stout. Adam is 100% behind the scenes, as king of finance, accounting, logistics, and innovation. He resides in Oklahoma full time. And Becki is the face of Black Bear, very engaged and all hands-on. She is there nearly every day, filling many roles: GM, HR, lead trainer, customer service guru... She will often be seen running food, helping customers, mental health triage, and lending an extra hand. There is a definite community among staff. It's an exciting place to be a part of.
Or listen to the Denali 360 Podcast with Becki Klauss and Sarah Beth Tanner
The Black Bear is essentially a close-knit community of seasonal staff, coming together in a 4-month spurt of collective energy to fuel the gears of a true mom and pop shop in the middle of remote, wild beauty.
You will be expected to jump in, learn fast and pick it up as you go. You will work as fast as you can some days, and be expected to keep busy when it is slow. You will be expected to bring your best self to the team and adapt to being a hard-working professional in the midst of an adult summer camp. We require that those in all positions have respectful communication skills, are able to be on one’s feet all day in a very fast-paced environment, and work under extreme pressure. One must be able to take direction and continuing professional critique and grow with it.
The Alaska season is only four months long, therefore we seek those who can learn fast, process quickly and dive in. At this time, we are not set up to offer any assistance with visas for international applicants.
All hires must stay the duration of the season (about May 20- September 10). We want people who are fun to work with, have a good sense of humor, and who actually enjoy cultivating the Black Bear vibe together in their work. All responsible folks who care and work hard will be rewarded with compassion, respect, kindness and the joy of being a part of something that people truly love. Our employees can stand behind the integrity of what Black Bear puts out. We seek individuals who share our values of ethics, honesty, people, service, and craft. Students of life who share a sense of adventure and desire real community are who we want to hire.
Room and Board
We have a brand new, beautiful housing compound that was just completed last summer for Black Bear, in an area called Carlo, about 14 miles south of Black Bear. Our cabins are just a couple of acres off the main highway, and within walking distance of Carlo Creek Lodge, Panorama Pizza Pub, The Perch Restaurant and Creekside Café. It’s on a property adjacent to the Nenana River with incredible mountain views all around. It is truly one of the most beautiful spots in the area. These newly constructed, double occupancy cabins all have new twin mattresses, closets and heat. There is a shower house with showers and sinks, and cookshack building, with a full kitchen, electricity and running water as well as the most beautiful double outhouse you've ever seen. We have starlink on site for wifi as well as a cell phone signal extender. (Only AT+T is within range here.)
There are also a few additional cabins and yurts available in the tiny town of Healy, just 9 miles north of Black Bear, off the beaten path and tucked in the forest. They are very near the local grocery store, and 49th State Brewing Co. These are also privately owned structures that have been secured through a lease with Black Bear as well.
ALL of our housing is private, tucked into the forest, and very Alaska. This means they are all simple, rustic and DRY - no running water. If you live at Camp Carlo, there are showers for resident use only. If you are in Healy, there are laundry and shower facilities in town. There are three campgrounds in the general area for laundry and showers.
Not all of our employees are able to drive to Alaska. So, we do have a few vehicles available for ride share to and from work, grocery and laundry.
We deduct rent from paychecks and pay our landlords directly. All housing for our staff has been secured through private renters with leases through Black Bear.
Aside from the bonus of being at the epicenter of the scene in Denali, there are several perks to working at Black Bear:
It’s THE daytime hotspot… like, the living room of Denali. Everyone hangs out there. You get to know people. And you have your finger on the pulse of adventure. It’s easy to find people to hike with, know what local music is happening, and meet every kind of person on earth. Really.
You get comps and discounts on many local tours.
Employee discounts (50% off) on the best food in Denali. Free coffee while you work. MMMmmm.
Mountain views everywhere you look…
Hiking around every turn…
The biggest perk of all, is community. If it weren’t for the people, Denali would just be another pretty place. It’s chock full of really incredible souls: travelers, artists, creatives… It’s the place to meet the people who will change your life… and they pretty much all hang out at The Black Bear.
Getting Here and Getting Around
The bottom line is you don’t NEED a car - but, you’ll wish you had one.
Black Bear does not offer assistance in getting to Denali. If you fly in, there are shuttle services to take you to Denali, either from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Anchorage is 230 miles south, and often cheaper to fly into. Fairbanks is 130 miles north. Price it out: alaskashuttle.com or akrr.com. Discounts are often given for employees traveling to Denali.
The National Park itself runs free and fee based shuttles into the park and several other hotels and restaurants run free and fee based shuttles in the Denali area. So, even if you don't have a car, and you want to explore, you can find a shuttle to take you deep into the wilderness, or just to karaoke night, and several places in between.
Several people bike to work. You can find an affordable bike in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Check Craigslist!
As mentioned, we do have a couple of vehicles that we use for ride share so that everyone can carpool to work, grocery and laundry.
Thinking about driving up??
PROS: freedom!, stopping at Liard Hot Springs, not having to rely on rideshare, getting in some car camping, road trips all over AK, that sweet new ‘I DROVE THE ALCAN’ bumper sticker, car naps
CONS: wear and tear on that ole beast, gas money to AK (find a road trip buddy), pretty much that’s it...
So many things to do...
The hard part is slowing down and maintaining some self-care and grounding in the midst of it all.
Check out denaliadventure.com for all of the fun activities going on in Denali. Many local employees get comps and discounts.
It's an active community. Lots of adventures. Nightlife. Live music. Open mic. Karaoke! OR, you can find a quiet mountain top to chill out on.
If you are not an outdoorsy type, don't come. Just kidding. There are things for geeks too: local dungeons and dragons nights, catan, fun bars, dinner theatre, marathons, midnight sun golf, adopt a local sled dog to walk every day...
How to Apply
If you are looking to further your career in specialty coffee and culinary craft, while experiencing the most beautiful place on earth, we want to connect with you. Send Becki an e-mail with details all about you and why you want to work at The Black Bear. Please be sure to include your resume and a few e-mails AND phone numbers of relevant professional references.
Can't wait to meet you!