Don’t Miss These Restaurants and Coffee Bistros in Casper, Wyoming

One of the interesting aspects of Casper, Wyoming, is that cosmopolitan restaurant and coffee bistro venues can be found in this Western oil city of 50,000-plus people. Such restaurant and coffee bistro havens can round out a great trip to Casper, Wyoming. Here’s five Casper, Wyoming, restaurant and coffee bistro attractions that’ll satisfy your thirst and appetite:
Tasty Sauces Abound at Botticelli Restaurante Italiano

One of Casper’s tastiest Italian restaurants, Botticelli’s emanates that feel of the old county and provides an intimate atmosphere for diners. Enjoy some festive Sopranos-like dinner music throughout your eating experience here. The restaurant offers quite a menu full of antipasti, pastas, meat, and chicken dishes. What stands out for me at Botticelli’s, as you will read, is the incredible flavor of their sauces and vegetables.

For appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the Merende, which is a large plate full of Italian meats, cheese, and heavy doses of marinated vegetables, which is the best part of this dish. Those peppers, greens, eggplant, and summer squash had a real kick to them thanks to the deliciously prepared marinated sauce! I also enjoyed a large glass of sweet cherry Italian soda containing half and half cream before dinner was served.

As for the main course, I feasted on the Vitello Picatta, which contained lightly salted but tasty veal, and penne pasta that was smothered in a Rose sauce (a tasty blend of Alfredo and marinara sauces). The vegetables with this course, as well as the appetizers, were really fresh in taste. Incredible for wintertime!

For your restaurant dessert, get the Botticelli’s spicy Spumoni Italian ice cream, which is full of mint, strawberry, and chocolate flavor. This was a great way to finish my meal in the heart of Wyoming.

Botticelli’s of Casper, Wyoming, offers a fine selection of wines and coffee drinks for your drinking pleasure, including ½ price wine on Tuesday nights.

Botticelli Restaurante Italiano: 129 W 2nd St., Casper, Wyoming 82601. 307-266-2700.

Surf and Turf Action at the Fire Rock Steakhouse amp; Grill

Wyoming is known for ranches; and thus, for quality beef, making this state a beef eater’s paradise. The Fire Rock, recently opened in Casper, Wyoming, in July 2006, provides an intimate “Industrial Western” restaurant atmosphere with high ceilings that help to absorb the noise level when many diners are partaking of meals here. It’s a bit more of a splurge than the Outback chain, but well worth the money. The restaurant serves top quality beef that’s been aged for three weeks. You will have no problem finding a wide selection of steaks and other meat dishes here as well as seafood, pasta, and salad choices.

I chose to have a surf and turf eating experience here, so I began with the grilled Crab Cakes that came with tartar and cocktail sauce. The outer part of the cakes was crispy and the inner part tasted light and smooth.

For my main course, I just had to try the Fire Rock Meatloaf. It’s smothered in a very tangy barbeque-like sauce instead of ketchup. To me, the taste was more like some nicely tender boneless ribs. I got very full while eating this dish (which also came with grilled onions, mashed potatoes, and bread served up like a mountain), because (initially, as part of the entree) I was served some creamy soup loaded with chicken and mushrooms that I found to be spiced just right and delicious.

As for drinks, the Fire Rock of Casper, Wyoming, gives diners more than 25 different kinds of wine selections and plenty of mixed drink and beer offerings, including several non-alcoholic beer choices like the Imported Kaliber non-alcoholic beer, which I found to have a positively medium to strong aftertaste.

As for desserts, you can choose from several, including the Crème Brule and the Muddy Mountain Flourless Chocolate cake.

You will receive very friendly and attentive service from the wait staff!

Fire Rock Steakhouse amp; Grill: 6100 E. 2nd St., Casper, Wyoming 82609. 307-234-BEEF.

The 303 Restaurant: Casper’s Version of Midtown Manhattan

When you enter the 303 Restaurant, you enter both past and present worlds…one where your ears can take in some Big Band and Swing music, but also where your eyes will take in a futuristic motif that you’d expect to find at some swanky Midtown Manhattan restaurant save the more expensive prices in Gotham. The 303 has quickly established itself as one of Casper’s premiere restaurants, and is definitely worth a splurge for even budget travelers for the atmosphere alone!

This jet-setting Wyoming restaurant was once a grocery distribution center and publishing company, and is named for its numerical street address on South Wolcott, one of Casper’s oldest streets. The 303 offers lunch and dinner options on menus whose covers are made of cork. The options include a nice range of seafood, burgers, and pastas at lunch to more elegant and quantitative selections during the evening (like real Buffalo Tenderloin from South Dakota as well as Petite Beef Wellington). Dinnertime is when this Casper eating spot really gets hopping, according to Service Manager Derald Moe.

I took in a nice lunch there, starting out with a very tasty cottage salad, full of fresh greens, Roma tomatoes, English cucumbers, and smothered in Bleu Cheese dressing to my liking. For their lunch offerings, they serve up two kinds of menus: Pub, which includes traditional pub grub like Reubens, burgers, and fish and chips, the latter which I selected. I found it to be quite filling as I dined off of some Aurora Plates by Elan, whose ends are curved up! Their lunch Bistro menu offers more “refined” selections like Smoked Salmon Pita and Flat Iron Au Poivre steak. For dessert, I gained some extra weight by feasting on the sinfully delicious Mexican Chocolate Mousse, made with cayenne and chipotle seasoning. The mousse was dotted with a raspberry on top!

The 303 of Casper, Wyoming, offers a wide drink selection, including beers, microbrews, and five-plus pages of wine selections (a restaurant menu in itself!!!). The service is quick and very friendly. I would strongly advise wearing at least a collared shirt and business style slacks if you venturing in for dinner.

New construction is currently going on upstairs at this restaurant which will provide a performance venue as well as a fully stocked bar when completed.

The 303 Restaurant: 303 S. Wolcott, Casper, Wyoming 82601. 307-233-4303.

The Metro Coffee Company’s Gathering Spot

The Metro Coffee Company is one of Casper’s top hangouts for both the younger generation and adults, too. This Wyoming coffee bistro atmosphere can be quite energetic, especially when a special art showing or musical performance from a local artist is being held. Many soft and comfortable couches can be lounged on while enjoying your beverage and dessert of choice. Even a couple of computers are onsite to use for free internet surfing. The coffee bistro is wired with WIFI internet access, too, for laptops.

Like any good coffee bistro, coffee selections abound. The Metro Coffee Company’s dessert offerings include cheesecake, cookie, and brownie offerings. But what impressed me the most there was the wide selection of top quality tea for those tea lovers out there. The Metro Coffee Company specializes in brewing one such smoked Chinese tea called Lap Sang Souchong, which smells like the smoke emanating from a fireplace.

The Metro Coffee Company: 241 S. David St., Casper, Wyoming 82601. 307-472-5042.

Moody Brews: Gelato Alternative to Italy!!!

Yes, Moody Brews offers a nice Casper coffee bistro atmosphere with a wide selection of coffees, espressos, and mochas. It even serves up a plentiful bistro menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings including Fresco and Panini sandwiches, crepes, soups, and salads. Yet this isn’t what makes this place special to me. Read on…

I gotta tell you all that I’ve never tasted better gelato, and I’ve been to Italy twice in my lifetime! Moody Brews prides itself on making fresh gelato in 12 cream and citrus flavors (which change regularly) ranging from Watermelon, Pink Grapefruit, to Pistacchio. It’s the Pistacchio Gelato that I want to brag on. I’ve never enjoyed 2 servings of ice cream or gelato more! The delectable delight has got a rich green flavor, and contains a really strong pistachio taste, but it’s tapered perfectly in sweetness, and has some gummy consistency within the bites.

This Casper, Wyoming, coffee bistro offers free WIFI internet access for your laptops, open mic sessions for local musicians and poetry slams for writers, so you may be entertained while dining and/or drinking coffee if you happen to drop in at the right time. Check the website for performance schedules.

MoodyBrews: 152 S. Center St., Casper, Wyoming 82601. 307-472-5114.

Medicaid Surgery Costs

Each year, about 300,000 Americans undergo arthoscopic knee surgery to ease the pain of arthritis, but government researchers are now saying the operation is worthless for arthritis sufferers and may even be harmful in some cases.

Arthoscopic knee surgery is an attempt to clean out debris or repair damaged cartilage in the knee. In the study, some patients received the real operation, while others received a sham operation. Neither group knew whether or not their operations had really been performed.

The researchers monitored the patients’ progress over the next two years. They discovered that those who had received the fake surgery could climb stairs and walk slightly faster on average than those who had received the real operation.

The surgery generally costs about $5,000 and accounts for a total of $1.5 billion each year nationwide. The results of this study may prompt some insurers to refuse to pay for it. Other options for treating osteoarthritis of the knee include pain relievers, cortisone shots, hot packs, exercise, and knee-replacement surgery.elderly

Osteoarthritis affects about 12% of senior citizens.

Hobbies and a Social Life — the Latest Breakthrough Against Dementia

Guidance for When Drugs Are Covered by Medicare

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance on when Medicare pays for prescription drugs. This should help Medicare Intermediaries to determine whether a drug or biological that is furnished incident to a physician’s service is subject to the Medicare program exclusion for drugs that are usually self-administered by the patient. In general, drugs that are administered by beneficiaries more than 50% of the time will be excluded from coverage by Medicare.

Absent evidence to the contrary, drugs delivered intravenously or through intramuscular injection should be considered to be not usually self-administered. However, the opposite is generally true for drugs administered through subcutaneous injection.

For the full text of the guidance, go online:

Common Medicare Questions and Answers About HHS

Can someone who has never worked receive Social Security or Medicare based on his or her spouse’s employment?

A U.S. citizen’s spouse who has never worked can obtain both Social Security and Medicare benefits. These benefits are derived from the spouse’s work record. But these rights differ for U.S. citizens and non-citizens.

Do I have to live in the U.S. for five years and be a U.S. citizen to qualify for Medicare? When I qualify for Medicare, how much will it cost me?

It is not necessary to be a citizen of the U.S. in order to purchase Medicare. All that is required is that you be 65 or older and have lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years. If you OR your spouse have worked (combine the number of years for each of you) for more than seven years you may be eligible for Medicare at a reduced cost. Otherwise, it will cost $309 for Medicare Part A and $43.80 for Medicare Part B each month.

I am an American citizen. Next year I will be 65 years old. I also have accumulated 40 working quarters. My wife is over 65 and immigrated here in September l997. She has not worked in the states. When she has lived here for five years, will she be able to get Medicare so we won’t have to pay for it ourselves?

Yes. Because she is married to someone who has Medicare, she can get Medicare based on your contributions. If she were not married, she would need to buy-in. When she is eligible for Medicare, she can apply at the Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213.


The HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a report stating that psychotropic drug use in nursing homes is generally appropriate. The Senate Special Committee on Aging requested the OIG investigate the extent to which psychotropic drugs are being used as inappropriate chemical restraints in nursing

Psychotropic medications are drugs that affect brain activities associated with mental processes and behavior. They are divided into four broad categories: anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and hypnotic drugs. CMS established guidelines for the appropriate use of these drugs in nursing homes. Chemical restraint is the use of a drug to control an individual’s behavior and is legally appropriate only if used to ensure the physical safety of residents or other individuals.

According to the OIG’s findings, the drugs are generally being used appropriately. The few problems involved inappropriate dosage, chronic use, lack of documented benefit to the resident, and unnecessary duplicate drug therapy.

To view the full report, look online at

Source:HHS OIG 11-2001

National Notes

November Is National Family Caregiver Month


U.S. Senator Larry Craig of the Senate Special Committee on Aging reminded the nation that November is National Family Caregiver Month. “Family caregivers are generous and compassionate people and it is appropriate that in November, the month of Thanksgiving, we acknowledge those who provide care for others who need help caring for themselves.”

Last year, Congress added $125 million to establish a new National Family Caregiver Support Program to assist family caregivers. Those services include information and assistance, training and counseling, and respite care.

If you are providing care for an older person and need help, you should contact either your state or local Area Agency on Aging. Try the Eldercare Locator-a great way to find community assistance for seniors-at 1-800-677-1116.

Also, visit our Senior Sites links page of this E-letter for great links to caregivers organizations.


A new study from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) highlights the problem of drugs inappropriately prescribed for elderly patients in the United

According to the study, about one-fifth of the approximately 32 million elderly Americans not living in nursing homes in 1996 used at least one of 33 prescription medicines considered potentially inappropriate. Nearly one million elderly patients used at least one of 11 medications which a panel of geriatric medicine and pharmacy experts advise should always be avoided in the elderly.

These 11 medications include long-acting benzodiazapines, sedative or hypnotic agents, long-acting oral hypoglycemics, analgesics, antiemetics, and gastrointestinal antispasmodics. The list of 33 potentially inappropriate medications reflects the consensus of the expert panel. Not all physicians agree about the appropriateness of specific drugs for the elderly.

Source:AHRQ 12-11-2001

National Notes

Social Security Commission Unveils Three Plans


President Bush’s Social Security Commission has revealed three options for allowing workers to establish individual investment accounts as an alternative to the traditional Social Security system. The Commission also acknowledged that these proposals would have to be accompanied by benefit cuts or other steps to avert a long-term financial crisis.

All three proposals would allow, but not require, workers to invest part of their Social Security payroll taxes in stocks and bonds. While one plan would leave the system’s fiscal responsibility totally up to Congress, the other two proposals include measures that would strengthen the system’s long-term stability. These measures could include benefit cuts, infusions of general government revenue, or higher taxes for some workers.

Source:New York Times 11-30-2001

National Notes

The ElderCare Locator


The public is increasingly using the Administration on Aging’s (AoA’s) nationwide Eldercare Locator to find supportive services to help care for older people in their homes and communities. The average number of calls increased 15.3% from 9,043 each month in FY 2000, to 10,425 each month in FY 2001.

A survey found that most people (69%) called the service on behalf of a member of their family. Many callers are long-distance caregivers looking for services to assist their loved ones, relatives, or friends who live in another town or state. The survey also found that most (96%) callers are satisfied with the assistance they receive, and 89% are first-time callers.

The toll-free number is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time. The web site is available 24-hours a day. Try the Eldercare Locator at: 1-800-677-1116

General Accounting Office (GAO),

According to a recent report by the General Accounting Office (GAO), physical and sexual abuse of nursing home residents often goes unreported to the authorities and is rarely prosecuted. The three-state investigation also uncovered gaps in state and federal rules intended to protect nursing home residents from medicaid abuse.

According to the report, registries designed to keep abusers out of nursing homes are not consistently updated. And since there is no national registry, nursing homes that conduct checks in one state might unsuspectingly hire an individual who has been fired from nursing homes for abuse in other states.

The report recommended that CMS assess the usefulness of the state registries. Also, the GAO suggested CMS finish implementing an education effort that began over three years ago to encourage nursing home employees to report abuse. Continue reading “General Accounting Office (GAO),”

Social Security and Medicare Outlook Improves a Bit

The trustees for Social Security and Medicare have released reports that the two programs are still losing money, but could remain solvent for longer than was previously expected. The projected solvency of the Medicare trust fund was extended by one year to 2030, while Social Security is now expected to be stable until 2041, three years longer than past projections.

President Bush and Republicans in Congress pointed to the numbers as evidence that changes should be made to the systems soon, including adding a limited prescription drug benefit. But Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chairman of the Senate’s health committee, downplayed the urgency, saying “these estimates discredit [the administration’s] claims that Medicare needs radical surgery to privatize the program and force senior citizens into HMOs.”

Social Security is expected to have to dip into its trust funds by 2017 because it will begin paying more benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. Under the latest projections, Medicare will be forced to dip into its trust fund by 2016. The trustees of both programs cautioned that even though these latest projections show a slight improvement, they don’t hide the fact that both Medicare and Social Security are not prepared for the retirement of the baby boomers.

Under the present shortage of skilled nurses, nursing homes are having trouble keeping their facilities staffed. But new regulations proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could help ease that strain a bit.

Current regulations allow only certified nurses to help nursing home residents eat. The new regulations would instead allow assistants to feed nursing home residents after completing training. Each assistant would be required to learn the Heimlich maneuver, resident rights, communication, and infection control. Family members and volunteers would not be required to take the training.

Feeding assistants would not count toward minimum staffing requirements, and states would have the option to implement the regulations.

The Department of Health and Human Services is warning Americans of the risks of “pre-diabetes,” a condition affecting nearly 16 million Americans that sharply raises the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of heart disease by 50%. Research shows that most people with pre-diabetes will likely develop diabetes within a decade unless they make modest changes in their diet and level of physical activity, which can help them reduce their risks and avoid the debilitating disease.

HHS is using the term “pre-diabetes” to describe an increasingly common condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not diabetic—known in medicine as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.

Drug Stores Threaten to Pull Out of Medicaid


With a number of states planning to cut the amounts they pay to pharmacies for filling Medicaid prescriptions, drugstores are threatening to refuse to serve Medicaid patients if those plans are carried out.

Medicaid consumes about 20% of the average state budget, and many states are facing fiscal problems that need solutions. When a Medicaid participant gets a prescription filled, the state generally pays the pharmacy for the cost of the drug plus a flat fee. But sixteen states—including Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington—are considering cutting reimbursements to pharmacies.

CVS and Walgreen’s, the largest drugstore chains in the U.S., said they would reduce hours, close stores, and halt expansion in any states that cut pharmacy payments. But Rite Aid and Albertsons have threatened to drop Medicaid completely in those states.

Source:Associated Press 3-11-2002

National Notes

Healthcare Spending to Double Between 2000 and 2011

Continue reading “Social Security and Medicare Outlook Improves a Bit”

CMS Launches First National Nursing Home Ratings

American seniors are living longer and better than ever before, developing fewer disabilities and smoking less. But some experts fear a surge in elderly obesity could cancel out many of those health gains. In the past decade, smoking among Americans over 50 has decreased by 29%. Between 1982 and 1999, obesity in that same group has nearly doubled, according to an AARP report. The report also found:senior living

60% of US adults are overweight or obese;

300 million people worldwide are obese, and 750 million are overweight;

In the US, preventable obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tobacco-related illnesses cost the nation $270 billion per year.

Source: Associated Press 5-21-2002

National Notes

CMS Cites Nursing Home Complaints on Web Site


As part of its efforts to give seniors and families more information on nursing home quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),, has now placed the results of complaint investigations on its Web site. This data is in addition to the existing inspection results for the three most recent state nursing home inspections currently reported.

People who are looking into nursing home care for themselves or a loved one will find on the site the health deficiencies for nursing homes that have been cited as a result of investigations after complaints were filed.

You can find the new information at 5-2002

A new bill introduced in the US House of Representatives would create an outpatient prescription drug benefit for seniors, funded by the transfer of federal estate tax revenues to the Medicare program. The bill would also make substantial changes to the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the bill, called the Medicare Outpatient Prescription Drug Coverage Funding Act of 2002. Under the bill, the estate tax would not be repealed in 2010. Instead, the maximum estate tax rate would be set at 45% in 2007 and thereafter, and the exemption amount of $3.5 million coming in 2009 would be made permanent. Though the estate tax would not be repealed, the sunset provisions of the 2001 Tax Act would be (for estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes), and the new bill would provide some permanent estate tax relief.

Unless the tax cuts of the Tax Relief Act of 2001 are made permanent, they will expire on midnight of December 31, 2010. The US House of Representatives recently passed legislation to repeal the Act’s sunset provisions, but the bill faces a vicious battle in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has vowed to “oppose it very aggressively in the days and weeks ahead.”

The 229-198 House vote was mostly along party lines, with nine Democrats and one Republican crossing over. Democrats argued the measure would reduce federal revenues by $373 billion in 2012 and by $4 trillion over the following decade. This, they said, would make budget problems, along with the solvency of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, even more troublesome.

But Republicans accused Democrats of using scare tactics and claimed that Social Security would not be affected. The more important issue, according to Republicans, is giving taxpayers the certainty to make long-term plans.