It seems only fitting that the Anaconda Smelter Stack is in clear view from the windows of the Barclay II Supper Club. The stack, completed in 1919, is one of the tallest free-standing brick structures in the world at 585 feet. In its heyday, Anaconda was the site of the smelter operations that processed copper ore from Butte. These operations were the economic lifeblood of this small community which sits in the shadow of the Pintler Mountains. In September of 1980, The Atlantic Richfield Company dealt a significant blow to Anaconda when they permanently shut down the copper smelter. Some 1,000 employees were left jobless, and many chose to seek work elsewhere, impacting the community’s vitality.

One Anaconda resident, Dorothy Barclay, was determined to open a supper club with her sister-in-law in 1981. Her kids thought she was crazy, given the town’s current economic hardships. Forty-one years later, Barclay II is still going strong, thanks to Dorothy’s kids and grandkids. Dorothy set the tone for the restaurant that prevails today — warm smiles, kind words, and the ability to make every customer feel special.

When Dorothy passed at 72, her daughter Sandy Barclay Mattson took over the reins of running the business. Sandy, who still works at Barclay II, has passed the torch of responsibility on to her three children, George Mattson, Tammy Mattson, and Stephanie Hekkel. I sat down with all of them to learn a bit more about this iconic restaurant. Their most significant change happened last July. The family designed and built a new facility, attached to the new Forge Hotel on the east end of Anaconda and in full view of the Smelter Stack. Barclay II has a swanky bar with first come, first serve to sit for drinks and dinner and a more formal dining room, reservations only. There is also a room in the back for receptions and banquets. I’m curious if there is a definition for “supper club.” Sandy and her kids pause, not sure how to answer. Stephanie says, “I guess a place with white tablecloths and candles on the table. And a place that only serves supper.”

The bar’s interior has touches of copper mixed with earthy shades of brown and black. A bank of windows and high ceilings keep the space light and airy. High-backed upholstered booths, along with wood tables, provide ample seating. The family mentions that prisoners at Montana State Prison in nearby Deer Lodge made all the tables and booths. The craftsmanship is superior, as fine as anything I’ve seen in a name-brand furniture store. The restaurant area uses the same colors found in the bar, although the lighting is very subdued, lending a bit of intrigue to the room. I could imagine the copper kings of the last century hunkered down in a dark corner booth, secretly negotiating mining rights while dining on steak and sipping bourbon.

Barclay II has a custom of serving complimentary raviolis and spaghetti with every meal. When I asked how this tradition came to be, the family looked at each other inquisitively, then Stephanie remarked, “All we were ever told is that it was something that came from Meaderville.” Meaderville was a small suburb of Butte, settled by Italian immigrants. By the 1930s, the town had gained a reputation as the boisterous place for booze, women, gambling, and surprisingly, for its exceptional supper club restaurants, which served spaghetti and raviolis with each meal.

Dorothy’s parents migrated from Italy and settled in Anaconda. But it’s likely her interaction with the Italian community in Meaderville spurred her on to open a supper club and serve the raviolis and spaghetti with every meal. Sadly, Meaderville would be crushed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, making way for the Berkeley Pit. Luckily for diners, Barclay II carries on the tradition of an outstanding supper club in Montana with Italian roots.

Come hungry if heading to Barclay II for dinner. For starters, tenderloin kabobs, sautéed mushrooms, deep-fried ravioli, steak poutine fries, and blue cheese steak flatbread are options. Meals include a house salad, shrimp cocktail, spaghetti, ravioli, and your choice of French fries, baked potato, or vegetables. The menu is extensive, but this restaurant is best known for its tenderloins, which can be paired with crab, prawns, or sautéed scallops. Grilled salmon, halibut, and fish and chips are additional seafood choices. Pasta dishes include shrimp, clam, vegetable, or mussel scampi. I ordered a tenderloin, which was exceptional — fork-tender, juicy, and rich in flavor.

Barclay II plays off its mining history with specialty drinks. The Smoke Stack blends Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon and Disaronno liquor over ice. The Slag Martini features Chambord, Blue Curacao, and Tanqueray shaken and served up. On tap is the Copper Chute Amber Ale, brewed exclusively for Barclay II by Smelter City Brewing in Anaconda. Their wine list includes selections from Oregon, California, New Zealand, and of course, Italy.

There is no doubt that Barclay II has stood the test of time due to a tight-knit family committed to each other and to serving the Anaconda community. While so many eateries have been hard hit with employee retention, especially during the pandemic, this has not been an issue at Barclay II. It’s a result of non-family employees being treated like family and showing their loyalty with ongoing employment. There have only been five cooks in the 41 years of operation. I find that remarkable, given in this day and age, longevity in the workforce is a rare thing.

Anaconda was a dinner destination for myself and hubby Ed. The doors opened at 5 p.m., and by 5:45 p.m., the bar area was almost full. Sandy, George, Tammy, and Stephanie were moving about like ants on the march, tending to customers. Many were long-time patrons, given the banter flowing between them and the owners. While the restaurant is upscale in its physical appearance, an overall down-to-earth vibe makes Barclay II a very inviting place for supper. When we walked out the door with bellies very full, I knew I was leaving with some new friendships.

Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 after a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world. is a digital destination that serves up Montana's tasty food, travel and culture stories … one bite at a time.