Green River Star -

By Alexis Mitchell
Green River Historic Preservation Commission 

Remembering 36 years of Arctic Circle

 


Since 1979 Arctic Circle has been an important part of the community.

“What happens at Arctic Circle…..stays at Arctic Circle.” Edeen Hansen gave this comment to a Facebook post about any employees with memories about Arctic Circle.

Within a week, over 100 comments and pictures depicting memories from opening night to the late 80s were posted. Arctic Circle is still one of the favorite fast food joints in Green River. However, before the store was built on the land bought by the company, the soon-to-be-displaced tenants were not as welcoming to this new development.

According to a June 1979 article in the Green River Star, Arctic Circle bought the land from the owner; she owned the land and had several 1940s row houses like the others on the block. The controversy came when the residents expressed in a newspaper article that they felt they were not given sufficient notice about the sale. They claimed that there was no formal warning and they were being unfairly evicted from their long time homes. The owner defended herself by saying she requested six months to notify her tenants so they could make arrangements for relocating. In the end the houses were torn down and the company store went up to provide the location of Arctic Circle.

The Green River store opened on Dec. 14, 1979. It is the only corporate store outside of Utah, but it functions more like a locally owned and operated business. It has been the first job of many residents. Debbie Flores remembers the opening week to be a blur of ice cream. She recalled making shakes and having the ice cream fly everywhere. She also remembers filling the fruit punch with beet juice by mistake and burgers accidentally going out with no meat because they were so busy. While most of the memories are of hectic moments that most fast food places experience, she always remembers having fun! She was just a senior in high school but it was her first job and experience in the work force.

Many others spoke about their time at the store, commenting on their love and frustrations of putting together the salad bar-- by all accounts the best in town. Another fond memory people have of the store were the polar bear and penguin suits that people wore to advertise Arctic Circle in the Flaming Gorge Days parade. Artie the Polar Bear (sometimes known as Clyde) and the penguin (whose name seems to have been forgotten) also made their fair share of birthday party appearances. Charley Kizzire wore the polar bear suit in parades and recalled “It was hot, but loads of fun! I had a blast playing with the kids and walking in the parade.” He also worked at the store as the grill cook and, while it wasn’t his first job, it taught him the value of hard work, especially having to cook and clean in the kitchen. Kizzire was one of many that have special memories of their time at Arctic Circle.

Though most think of it today as a place to grab a bite to eat or satisfy a sweet tooth with one of their “above the rim” shakes, Arctic Circle is a big part of Green River and its community. Robert Berg has spent 20 of his 23-year tenure as the manager.

He even met his current wife, April Dawn, when she began working there. He loves representing Arctic Circle and supporting Green River. Arctic Circle is proud to support the Chamber of Commerce and to be part of the Main Street district. The store gives regular donations to local schools, business, and children programs.

Over the past 36 years, Arctic Circle has become an important part of the city of Green River. Even for those who have moved away, Arctic Circle seems to be many’s first stop when they return for a visit. Brie Blasi, curator at the Sweetwater County Museum, said that one of her first stops when she returned to Green River was Arctic Circle to get a Lime Rickey. For Green River folks, it holds a special, almost iconic place: the first place they worked, where they held their birthday parties, and a top place to visit after moving away.

 

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