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Q&A with Justin Dick

Restaurateur, family man and avid sneaker collector

By Abigail Thorpe

Photo by Kiersten Patterson Photography

Justin Dick started coming to Sandpoint from Denver when he was a boy, when they’d eat at Ivano’s and Thai Bangkok and work out at the Sandpoint West Athletic Club. As a grown man, he and his wife started asking the same question most of us did: “How do I move here?” He and his wife quit their jobs and moved to Sandpoint in 2006. Today, you will often find Justin at one of his two restaurants: Trinity at City Beach or Jalapenos, spending time with his family, or serving the community through Rotary or as president of the Bonner General Health Foundation Board.

Q. How did you get into the restaurant industry?

A. My mother’s side of the family owned a restaurant in a three-story motel in a tiny little farming community of Canistota, South Dakota, population 100. I had so many great times there. The customers and staff used to chase me around and buy me comics and candy. When my folks moved up to Sandpoint, it was the perfect opportunity to open a restaurant of her own, and my mother started Cafe Trinity on 1st Street next to Starbucks and Ground Zero skate and snowboard shop.

She quickly went from one employee to 30 in a matter of months, which sparked the conversation of my wife Shaunavee and I moving to Sandpoint. I bought the restaurant in 2009 and was able to move it to the Edgewater Best Western, as we never had enough space at the 1st Street location. We’re going on 12 years in this location.

Q. As part of the leadership for the Bonner General Health Foundation, how are you passionate about their role in our community?

A. I am the president of the Bonner General Health Foundation Board as of January 1, 2021, and have been a foundation trustee for the past four years. Bonner General Health has been so influential in my family’s lives that I’m honored to be a small part of giving back to our hometown hospital. Both our children were born there, several trips to the ER over the years, and the diagnosis of my son’s Type 1 Diabetes. BGH has always been there for us, but more importantly, for this community. A rural hospital is a cornerstone of every small community, and we are blessed to have such wonderful access to Bonner General Health.

Q. What is most rewarding about being a restaurateur here in Sandpoint?

A. Hanging out with the customers and the staff are among the top reasons I love this work. I’m a social butterfly, and especially now with COVID, it’s about the only time I get human interaction outside of my family. You have to be an owner-operator. Your customers expect to see you. The dream of hiring someone to run the place while you’re off galavanting around collecting cash went out the window my first month of the business. And I love it like that!

Q. For you, what is the most important takeaway and/or goal when it comes to work, family and life?

A. The world will go on without you and your business. And that’s fine. I can always find another job. What matters most are your family and the wonderful friends and relationships you have forged. I long dearly to go back to hanging out with some of my favorite friends. My circle has always been small, so it really makes me sad to have had so little personal contact with them.

Family wise, 2020 fulfilled my dream job of being a stay-at-home dad. It was the most amazing experience to spend as much time with my wife and kids. I got to catch up on over a decade of missed time. My challenge for the rest of my life will be how to better balance my family as the main priority from my work and nonprofit lives.

Q. What is most important to you outside of work, and what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

A. Family first and everything else second. Now, with that said, my family gets to deal with all the weird stuff I do in my free time! I have been collecting sneakers since I got my first pair of Fire Red Jordan 4s in 1989 for Christmas. I have curated a collection of all of my favorites from 1989 to present that includes upwards of 300 pairs. As of a year or two ago, I obtained the last of my grail pairs and have basically finished my collection. I still track down two to three pairs per month, but I have finally come to the point where I don’t feel incomplete without them. It’s nostalgic for me. It reminds me of great times playing basketball and football, my elementary through college career, and many good times I had while wearing them.

I’m an avid runner as of the last five years thanks to my wife Shaunavee, who ran the New York, Chicago and Boston marathons and many other races across the U.S. I never thought in a million years I would run for fun, but I love it. It’s an amazing feeling that doesn’t often get replicated.

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