Dive into the heart of community in Denali. Be a part of the local, independent hot spot. Love what you do.
About The Black Bear
The Black Bear has been a local, independent, small business in the heart of Denali since 1997. Our season runs mid-May through mid-September, when everyone takes dream vacations to The Wilderness.
We operate 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 is very important to us. We have an in house bakery, featuring rustic pastries, both conventional and vegan/gluten-free. We also bake all of our menu breads in house. Most of our menu is available gluten-free. And we have excellent options for vegans and those eating clean. We are the go-to spot for people wanting real food from scratch.
As for coffee, we are THE coffee house in Denali. In fact, we were chosen as 'BEST COFFEE SHOP IN ALASKA' by Food Network online. We source locally roasted coffees from Steam Dot Coffee Co. in Anchorage, voted 'BEST COFFEE IN ALASKA' by Food and Wine Magazine. And we are proud to offer many directly traded coffees with real stories from farmers and co-ops all over the world. We also serve smoothies, shakes, tea, locally brewed 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... great service.
For over 20 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.
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. 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.
Owners, Becki and Adam are very involved with their business. Adam is all behind the scenes, as king of finance, accounting, logistics, and innovation. And Becki is 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, and lending an extra hand. There is a definite community among staff, especially those in employee housing. It's an exciting place to be a part of.
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, therefore we seek those who can learn fast, process quickly and dive in.
All hires must stay the duration of the season (about May 12- September 19). 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 love 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
Black Bear has first-come-first-serve shared housing for about half of our staff, off the Denali Airstrip. The physical address of our housing is Mile 229 Parks Highway, DNP, AK 99755. They are small and simple cabins, nestled in the forest, with heat and electricity. The bath house is co-ed, with toilets, private stalls, and shelving to keep your stuff in there. The cookshack is the community hub for food, movies, and being social. All groceries are provisioned by our cook. You make your own breakfast. Lunch and dinner are served buffet style. Leftovers are always available for you to take and bring meals to work. Or, you can request a late plate be saved for you. There are always snacks available. There is careful consideration given to those with restrictive diets/food allergies. We try to aim for healthy meals and put a lot of care into making sure that everyone is well cared for.
It is a mixed community on our housing campus. It ranges from young 20 something creatives to 70 something straight-laced bush pilots. Therefore, it’s typically a real family feel.
Housing is automatically deducted from paychecks. It's $26 per day for all food, housing, and utilities. (This is subject to change, depending on food cost.) No pets allowed.
There are alternative options for those interested in having a more Alaskan experience/ living off the land/ saving some $$. We have local folks who offer a spot of land to park a camper/van, throw down a pop-up, or straight up glamp. There are also a few hidden gems in the area: private cabins. If you can find one of those, you're golden.
Since we don't have housing for all of our staff, it is necessary that some of them seek options outside of employee housing. And if you are open to that, at this point of the spring, the likelihood of you getting a job at Black Bear is higher. :)
Aside from the bonus of being at the epicenter of the local 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 most local tours. Check it out: denaliadventure.com
Employee discounts on the best food in Denali. Free coffee. MMMmmm.
Best housing in Denali. Yes, seriously. Many people applying for corporate jobs have housing in dorms with cafeteria food. WE don’t. Everything from scratch, and it’s pretty healthy. Our cabins are nestled in the trees, off the winding forest path… it’s dreamy. But, bare-bones and very simple. And fun. It’s a social community. There is lots of space for quiet, as well as yoga, helping with the greenhouse, playing music by the fire, sharing coffee in the gazebo, poker nights in the cookshack… just sayin. PERKS!
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 choc 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 shuttles available to take you to Denali, either from Anchorage or Fairbanks.
Housing is 9 miles south of Black Bear. There are often local shuttles running from about 8am-8pm you can use to get to work or to get home.
Several people bike to work from employee housing. You can find an affordable bike in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Check Craigslist!
Thinking about driving up??
PROS: freedom!, not having to rely on a shuttle, 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. 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, fun bars, karaoke, dinner theatre, marathons, 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 us an e-mail telling us 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.
Becki and Adam