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One look, and you’ll see it. A rugged kind of beauty, overflowing with opportunity, that only a campus and a Montana setting like ours can deliver. Every day here brings the promise of a new challenge. It’s a boundless experience that will challenge and inspire in ways you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Moments That Challenge and Inspire As part of my program, I worked at Montana Wild Rehab Center. It was a privilege knowing that the work I was doing was helping to get an animal back out into the wild where it belongs. — Sarah Roberts , class of 2018 “
Tell the student in your life to visit Carroll College and begin creating moments that last a lifetime.
CON T E N T S THE LOCAL HELENA VOL . 2 / FALL 2018
4 . CON T R I B U TO R S 5 . WE L COM E 6 . E AT 8 . B R U N C H , P L E A S E . 1 0 . H I S TO R I C E AT S 1 6 . L O C A L FA R E Feature: Benny's Bistro 1 8 . F I V E S TA R Feature: Silver Star Steak Company 2 2 . G E T O U T O F TOWN 2 6 . D R I N K 2 8 . L O C A L CO F F E E Feature: Caffeic Coffee Roasters 3 2 . N E X T G E N Feature: General Mercantile 3 4 . I T ' S A CO L D ON E Feature: Crooked Furrow Brewing 3 6 . P L AY
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Contributors TO T H E LO C A L
CLAIRE BACHOFNER // Lead Writer & Copy Editor
JASON O’NEIL // Lead Photographer
CASSIE PARR // Co-Creator & Promotions
ALLIE REYNOLDS // Co-Creator & Lead Designer
ANNA STRANGE // Advertising & Promotions
BRIAN D'AMBROSIO // Writer
SAM ERICKSON // Videographer
KATHY SMIDANSKY // Designer
HUNTER BEAMAN // Writer
MAGGIE BEAMAN // Photographer
PERI DROPPING // Digital Media Intern
JAMES RIDLE // Photographer
GINNY EMERY // Photographer
EMILY CLEWIS // Photographer
ONAWA LINDEN // Cover Design
COM E C R E AT E W I T H U S . Help us take The Local to the next level. We're seeking talented writers, photographers, videographers, and creators to help us with Vol. 3. Interested? Contact us! firstname.lastname@example.org A B O U T T H E LO C A L The Local believes in Helena. Your support allows us to harvest the creative talent within our community in order to strengthen small businesses, local artists, and all the little things that make Helena awesome. Our goal is to celebrate and promote local culture in a way that makes us proud to be a part of this community. This pride then impacts other locals, visitors, and people who’ve freshly relocated. WE ARE TREMENDOUSLY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
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Winter I N H E L E N A
Welcome to the City of Helena and Volume 2 of The Local; a publication that was created by a collective group of people who love Helena. I have the privilege of being the Mayor of Helena where our citizens live, work and play. Helena offers a great trail system, for walkers, hikers and bicyclists. Our citizens and visitors enjoy the many restaurants, local breweries and shopping. Downtown Helena is a unique area of our city that has many historical buildings, local shops, the Holter Museum of Arts, Reeders Alley and the pedestrian mall. Helena continues to grow in all directions. The Helena City Commission has approved the creation of a Tax Increment Financing District for the Sixth Ward area and will consider creating a Downtown Urban Renewal District, including a Tax Increment Financing District for the downtown area. These districts encourage the revitalization and redevelopment of properties.
Do you feel that? It’s the faint whisper of a chill against your skin. Soon, it will be a shout. Soon, Helena will transform before our very eyes. First through vivid autumn hues, then through crunchy, frost-covered grass and the subtle drift of fluffy snowflakes. As a community, we respond. We huddle together and head indoors or shovel those extra squares of sidewalk just to help a neighbor out. We still find ways to get out though, and there are plenty of chances to play hard when we do. The Local is always seeking ways to shine a spotlight on what makes Helena so great. It’s the businesses, the culture, the people, the places. It’s the tastes, the hard work, the heart-driven lifestyle, and the unhurried pace. We are proud call Helena home and we hope you are, too. HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE: This is not a directory or a list of all the businesses in Helena. This is your personal invitation to our favorite spots. Don’t see your business or fave spot? Don’t fret, we are already working on Vol. 3 and we would love your input! Share your stories and favorite places with us on our website: www.thelocal-helena.com GO PHYSICAL: Explore this guide with exclusive content at www.thelocal-helena.com n
Congratulations to the team for creating and publishing The Local.
WILMOT J. COLLINS MAYOR
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6 | T H E L O C A L - H E L E N A Pictured: Wassweiler
P H OTO B Y : J A S ON O ’ N E I L
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PHOTOS by EMILY CLEWIS WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER Ah, brunch. The luxury of a leisurely mid- morning meal may be one of the easiest ways to feel like royalty on what would otherwise be just another average Sunday. It’s a chance to pause, relax, and savor the exquisite flavors of Helena. Here are a few of our favorites. MU R R Y ' S 438 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 Murry’s is conveniently located downtown, right on Last Chance Gulch. It is a beautiful, spacious building on the 400 Block, nestled among charming local shops and art galleries. For brunch, Murry’s offers various items, but they are best known for their specialty waffles. There are both sweet and savory choices, as well as a seasonal featured waffle which rotates monthly. Really, you can’t go wrong in your choice here. Order at the counter, pair your brunch with a cup of hot, slow-pressed organic Turkish Blend coffee, and relax, sip, and savor the scene. Walls of windows pour natural light into the large rooms of Murry’s, and both the front and back dining areas present classic details, spacious tables, and notably comfortable chairs. Families with young children tend to gather near the delightful play area (complete with toys, picture books, a chalkboard, and a great little fort) toward the back of the cafe. It’s a great option for kiddos to play while parents kick back. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-2pm. LOCALS RECOMMEND: The potato pancake with stewed apples and sour cream, the seasonal special, and the lavender shortcake with coffee while waiting for the main course.
Pictured: Mediterranean Grill
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S MO K E J UM P E R 2850 Skyway Drive, Helena, MT 59602 The Smokejumper, located within the Helena Regional Airport, serves a classic brunch spread starring freshly carved Prime Rib. The brunch is served buffet style, with many hot brunch items to choose from including potatoes and scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, chicken enchiladas, pancakes and french toast, and even biscuits and gravy. There are also lighter brunch items, like fresh fruit, pasta salad, caramel rolls, mini cheesecakes and assorted pastries. It’s a regular feast, so bring your appetite. The Smokejumper Station serves Montana Coffee Traders Coffee. Yum. The servers are exceptionally warm, friendly and hospitable. They make you feel like family. And although you’re at the airport, there’s still a very local feel to the space-- locally distilled spirits, local beers on tap, tasteful Montana art hanging from the walls, and lovely timber accents which creates a rustic-chic feel. Sports fans can catch the game (perhaps the bottomless mimosa/ bloody Mary option could come into play here)? Brunch is served exclusively on Sundays but if you happen to come in on a Saturday morning, their eggs Benedict is no joke. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Prime rib, obviously. M E D I T E R R A N E A N G R I L L 42 S Park Ave, Helena, MT 59601 The Mediterranean Grill serves a lovely buffet- style brunch in a unique atmosphere. This is a more formal option as far as Helena brunch is concerned. A combination of self-serve and table service, you’ll help yourself to olives, cheese, focaccia, dips, tapenade, fresh fruit, various salads, pastries, cheesecake, brownies and coffee cake. Then, you may place an order for the main course of your choice: Egg Frittata, Lasagna Bolognese with Meat Sauce, Baked Rigatoni, Chicken or Veggie Lasagna.
The seasoned Med-Grill brunch goer may advise the multi-course meal approach. Pace yourself and take plenty of time between each selection. Maybe begin with a light pasta or Ceasar salad and a slice of focaccia with herb dip. An olive here, some feta there, a sip of mimosa. Easy, like Sunday morning. Time to order your pasta dish or frittata. After a bit of good conversation or a nice long gaze out the window, it’s back for a small plate of fresh fruit, or a delectable pastry. Try the Mediterranean Grill’s brunchy take on Baklava. All the same flavors but a slightly different presentation, it has shredded, baked filo dough on top, resembling a haystack of sorts, excellent with a cup of coffee as a final and memorable taste combination. LOCALS RECOMMEND: The Featured Egg Fritta as your entrée, a mimosa, and dessert. n
P H OTO B Y : J A S ON O ’ N E I L
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Historic Eats PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER It’s no secret that Helena is proud of its heritage. As locals, we relish in the stories of the past, especially when it comes to our historic eateries. There’s just something about inhabiting a space that has stood the test of time in a dining room where traditions are tried and true.
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T H E MON TA N A C L U B 24 W 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Mike speaks gently and deliberately, maintaining a passionate focus. Within moments, it is clear that he feels honored to spend his days in such a place. Sure, there are special challenges to cooking in a building that has to send hot dishes 4 floors down to dining room guests, 5 floors to the Rathskeller, where the same menu is offered. Yes, there are (super creepy) tales of ghosts and various quirks that could be viewed as obstacles. But Mike focuses on the club and how its long- standing group of patrons express their loyalty, enthusiasm and support making this one of the best gigs in town. The Montana Club menu offers a pleasing array of appetizers, sandwiches, locally-raised burgers and exquisite entrées. When I inquire about Mike’s favorite dishes his reply is at the ready, “Fish. Anything with fish and seafood. I love to experiment with the delicate flavors and see what I can come up with.” Whether seeking a memorable date night, an intimate and unlikely venue to experience live music, or even an amazing space for a private event, The Montana Club will ease you into the enticing murmurings of the past. T H E WA S SWE I L E R 4528 W US Hwy 12, Helena, MT 59601 The Wassweiler has become a top destination for special occasions in Helena and it’s easy to see why. Even just pulling into the parking lot, the delightfully old-fashioned covered porch and rust-red brick walls seem to beckon. What was once an inn beside Helena’s natural hot springs has been masterfully transformed into an exceptional dining house.
The Montana Club is a Helena institution. Towering over 6th Avenue, the structure is an impressive six stories of pure architectural genius. It was designed by world renowned architect Cass Gilbert and was constructed in the aftermath of a fire which all but consumed the original club. “When the Montana Club opened to its membership in 1905, the Helena Daily Record proclaimed it ‘[a] Dream in Architecture...a magnificent structure complete in every detail of furnishings and equipment from the Rathskeller to ‘sky floor’” (source: Patty Dean, “Montana Club” [Helena, Montana], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012). Even from the outside, The Montana Club emits authority. But it’s only when you enter the building, duck beneath the granite arches, quarried in Baxendale, carved in Helena, and run your fingers across the locally made bricks, that you can truly understand its significance. I began to gain an understanding of this myself on my way up to the sixth floor for a chance to chat with Executive Chef Mike McWilliams. The doors of the elevator glide open and I emerge into a grand room that has accommodated entrepreneurs and local industry leaders for decades. Long ago, they came here to exchange ideas - cocktails in hand, cigar smoke hanging in the air, minds buzzing with revolutionary aspirations. As I take in the scene, I can still sense the echoes of their chuckles and banter. The room glows, sunlight filtering in through the ancient windows which are adorned with custom, original stained glass.
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Owner Marci Andersen is proud of the restoration efforts put forth by her and her team. The building was originally constructed in 1883 and owned by Ferdinand Wassweiler. “This place has always intrigued me. The covered porch really sucked me in,” Marci recalls. When the building came up for sale, Marci’s dream suddenly went from pure fantasy to a tangible possibility. “We got to look inside and it was perfect. I knew it was just the right place to create a special dining experience for Helena. We felt it deserved to be shared with the public again.” The former inn closed its doors in 1907. So it had been over a century since people had been welcomed and served there. It’s the only remaining original hot springs building still intact in Helena. The project was considerable but, fortunately, Marci’s husband is a builder who was ready, willing and able to take it on. Structurally, the building was quite sound, but there was a lot of wiring, plumbing and updating required to make it the glorious setting it is today. “It’s been really well-received and Helena has been so supportive from the get-go. We’ve had marriage proposals here, a 96th birthday celebration, and lots of anniversaries. We love being a part of that, it’s so fun to share the experience with people.” And when Marci first envisioned the role of The Wassweiler, that was her exact intent. “It’s not just the food, it’s not just the building, it’s the full experience, from start to finish.” And, to that point, even the bathrooms are beautiful. Marci jokes, “I told the designers from Boxwoods who helped us that I wanted the kind of bathrooms people will talk about.” The Wassweiler Executive Chef, Andrew Brosten, grew up in Helena, got his culinary arts training in Scottsdale, Arizona, then returned home. He brings a true passion for food, presents elegant but approachable dishes, and balances
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flavors with enormous expertise. Herbs are often sourced from the garden on the property. Desserts are crafted with skill and creativity. The flavors sing. The Wassweiler opened their patio area this summer and will extend the season a bit by using heat lamps. The patio even has its own menu, with smaller plates and lighter fare. In the works - a speakeasy style pub that will be located in the former bathhouse on the property. It will be a unique place to share a drink and enjoy wonderful company in a slightly more low-key setting than the main dining house. The Wassweiler opened their doors in November of 2017, which is not that long ago, but if you’re a local and you say, “I’ve never been to The Wassweiler,” you may encounter gasps, jaw- drops, or just general confusion. Need we say more? W I N D B AG S A LOON 19 S Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 The Windbag Saloon definitely stands out as one of Helena’s historic landmarks. And not just because the building itself is old, or that it’s situated along the walking mall toward the far end of Last Chance Gulch. Nope. There’s a bit more to it than that. And if the enormous mugshot of Big Dorothy hanging from the brick wall still leaves you guessing, you might have to ask a local, “What’s the story, anyhow?” And they’ll tell you, but they may lower their voice or avoid eye contact while doing so. Up until 1973, The Windbag was a brothel, one of the last to close in the state of Montana. An operation run by the infamous “Big Dorothy,” it eventually got shut down and became a restaurant that is still very active and popular today. In the past couple of years, The Windbag has been significantly remodeled and is
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fearlessly led by new owners. It’s a hot spot in town, buzzing with activity and excitement every night of the week. Matt Schmechel, one of the owners, speaks fondly about his time spent digging through stacks and stacks of archived files on Big Dorothy and the Helena of long ago, searching for photos to hang on the wall of the restaurant. “I found a lot of really neat images but was really surprised by the number of Op- Ed pieces advocating for Big Dorothy. There seemed to be this sense that, sure, she was a madam but she was a madam with a heart of gold and appeared to be very connected to the Helena community.” Matt and his partners sought guidance from the Montana Historical Society and tried to maintain as much historical integrity as possible while still modernizing the space in ways that felt important. For example, they’ve added a patio and garage door which, during the warmer months, provides a great atmosphere and meeting place for cocktails with friends. They also increased the number of tables, altered the design of the bar and added several TVs for sports fans. Many original features remain, like the stamped tin ceilings and original brick walls and, Matt explains, “We were sure to never even think about laying a finger in Big Dorothy’s personal bathroom.” “It’s been a really cool project to be a part of,” Matt remarks “it’s a chapter of the Wild West that still lives on and we all get to celebrate that.” n
GOOD BBQ, NO BULL. (406) 459-2303 | 812 Front St, Helena, Montana
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Whenyouwant more than just a meal (406) 502-1303 |wassweiler.com | 4528West Highway 12, Helena, MT
Local Fare PHOTOS by EMILY CLEWIS WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
B E N N Y ' S B I S T R O 108 E 6 th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Having grown up in restaurants, Eric and Hillary Potuzak knew they someday wanted to own their own. As they shopped around in Helena, exploring their options and considering different locations, nothing seemed to fit quite right. Then one day, a mutual friend put the bug in their ear that Benny’s may soon be available. Having dined there often, the couple admired the location, philosophy, and well executed, locally-based menu. “This is really what we were looking for. We wanted it to be the right size to where it’s active and busy but you can still be really proud of every single plate. That’s what it’s all about,” Eric, Head Chef and owner explains. Benny’s Bistro specializes in local fare and emphasizes the farm to table business model. They source all of their proteins from Montana ranches, and bring in as much local produce as possible, which can be more challenging throughout the winter. Fortunately, many growers have fantastic root cellars allowing for extended availability. A few of Benny’s sourcing partnerships include: Western MT Growers’ Co-Op (Missoula), Glory Farms (Helena), Brent and Andrea Sarchet, facilitators of the MSU Agriculture Extension Program Office here in Helena, Amaltheia Dairy (Belgrade), Flathead Lake Cheese Company (Polson), and The Milford Colony (Wolf Creek) who deliver weekly and are “great to work with.” Partnering with several neighboring farms and ranches, Benny’s offers a menu that is diverse, thoughtful and locally-minded.
Pictured: Benny's Bistro
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The dining room seats 50 patrons at one time and goes from a bustling local hub during lunch service to a more formal but still pretty relaxed scene at night. Each day the dining room is transformed between 3:00 and 5:30; tables are dressed in white linens, the kitchen prepares for the dinner menu, glasses are polished, and settings carefully lined out. “Dinner’s nice because people tend to have time to fully enjoy the dining experience. They love to see their dishes being made. It’s more immersive, people are more present and don’t have to rush back to work,” reflects Eric. Eric and Hillary consider themselves fortunate in that they inherited a team of professional, friendly, loyal staff from the moment the torch was passed. “We’ve been really lucky that way,” Eric says, “the people love working here and they’re proud of what we have to offer.” It’s true. The servers are warm, confident and knowledgeable about food and wine pairings. They move about the dining room with grace and ease. They’re enthusiastic about the dishes, happy to answer questions. As we talk about the restaurant, Eric is rolling, pressing and cutting fresh pasta dough, ruler in one hand, pastry scraper in the other. He’s wearing a black Benny’s baseball cap that reads ‘EAT LOCAL’ across the back. He’s calm but intent, comfortably moving about the kitchen. It’s clear to see he’s at home here, that having a conversation while cutting fresh fettuccine pasta is second nature to him. A pot of stroganoff simmers on the stove; the aroma is hearty, warm, inviting. The Potuzaks were raised in Montana, Eric in Bozeman, Hillary right here in Helena. Prior to becoming owner and head chef of Benny’s, Eric managed the kitchen at the Radisson Colonial Hotel. “It was a great job, and I have nothing ill to say about it. Ultimately, though, I just wanted something smaller, something connected to downtown.” Hillary teaches math at Helena High and helps out as much as she can in the evenings and on weekends. She has experience with the front of house
end of things which creates a great balance of knowledge between she and Eric. Together, they bring years of experience, passion and understanding to Benny’s. Most days, Eric is the second person to arrive, the last one to leave. In the morning, he joins expert baker, Holly Ross, who prepares all of the dessert items fresh, from scratch, with great attention to detail day in, day out. The team trickles in and by lunch it’s all hands on deck as guests take their seats and choose their dishes. Meanwhile, on just the other side of the mountains, Wally Congdon feeds his cattle, cool breeze on his face. Growers harvest potatoes and carrots, gather eggs and age cheeses. Musicians pluck their guitar strings or tenderly approach their piano keys. It’s a group effort and one well worth tasting. n
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S I LV E R S TA R S T E A K COM PA N Y 833 Great Northern Blvd, Helena, MT 59601 The Silver Star Steak Company has quite the reputation in town. Upon entering, you’ll notice award after award after award, all framed, all “Best of Helena” winnings. This past year alone, the Silver Star won Best Cocktail, Best Happy Hour, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Steak, and even Best Nachos. That’s a whole lotta’ bests. The scene unfolds smoothly from there. The steakhouse is divided into an elegant dining room on one end, lounge on the other. Both are upscale but neither are stuffy. Guests appear relaxed and content, servers are calm and caring. There’s an ease about the place that feels natural and welcoming. The dining room is perfectly lit and has a nice blend of tables with chairs as well as super comfy booths. Large black and white photographs adorn the walls and there are subtle, tasteful, touches of Montana throughout. White linen napkins, leather covered menus, legitimate stemware, and soft but upbeat music all add to the experience. Known for their exceptional service and positive, attentive staff, I inquired about the Silver Star secret. “We’ve really learned how to hire well and choose people based
PHOTOS by JASON O’NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
Pictured: Taco del Sol i t r : Silver Star Steak Company
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BEST STEAK HOUSE in HELENA!
Dine at Silver Star Steak Company and enjoy a rich, inviting atmosphere with exceptional steaks, seafood, burgers, salads, an endless wine list, and impeccable service. 833 Great Northern Blvd. Helena, MT 59601 406-495-0677 www.silverstarsteakco.com Amazingly tender. Incredibly juicy. Full of flavor. No shortcuts, and you can taste it in every bite. Certified Angus Beef ® brand steaks cooked to order
on their personalities. I can and will teach someone how to wait tables or gain technical knowledge but I can’t really teach them how to be outgoing and genuinely care for people. That has to be a part of who they are when we meet them,” explains General Manager, Francois Zanni, “I’ll hire someone with no experience whatsoever as long as they have a great attitude and are willing to learn.” Every single staff person smiles warmly, makes eye contact while passing, and is generously attentive. That level of care and acknowledgement is certainly a treat and adds to the overall experience and atmosphere. Many Carroll College students have worked shifts between attending classes and studying for finals. In fact, Francois tells me, they’ll sometimes have around 15-20 Carroll students on staff at a time. “One guy tended bar all throughout his college career at Carroll then graduated and got a job in town and now he comes in as a customer. It’s pretty great to see something come full circle like that.” When it comes to the menu, the Silver Star offers many classics but often with an adventurous twist here or culinary curveball there. Take their Huckleberry BBQ Bison Burger, for example. Huckleberries near a burger?! Get outta’ town! But, it must be good if it earned Silver Star Executive Chef Josh Rhodes an invitation to the Flavored Nation Festival where one chef from each state is recruited. And, if you think nachos are just standard bar food, you may need to think again. There’s a reason the Macho Nachos got voted best in town and you’ll want to taste that reason for yourself. Of course, their Certified Angus Beef steaks are something to write home about. Duh. Just think about it, if they are that good at nailing a plate of nachos, imagine what they can do with steak. The Silver Star is a hot spot in town during legislative sessions. People have the need to gather and converse after a long day at the Capitol and often wish to treat each other to a nice meal while negotiating.
As I scan the room, I notice the stained glass panels that frame two sides of the dining room and note the wonderful blend of families young and old dining together. I see couples on dates as well as good friends sharing a meal and quiet conversation. There are even a few babes in high chairs doing their very best to not spill their food or lose their patience. It’s a Helena scene, to be sure. Everyone in the room belongs. Meanwhile, in the lounge a musician plays his guitar and sings familiar tunes. He’s really good. Live music can add so much to an evening as it does in this very instance. The soft lighting in the room is soothing. The bartender looks happy and at home in her garden of glassware, copper mugs, bottles, shakers and regulars. Silver Star Steak Company is owned by two Montana natives, Jim Bos and Kurt Shull, who met back in the 80’s (Kurt was washing dishes at one of Jim’s friend’s restaurants.) The two of them have now been working together for nearly four decades and have created a business that benefits and brings joy to many locals and visitors. The positivity extends beyond the walls of the steakhouse and reaches out into the community as a whole. Francois not only manages the restaurant, he’s President of Downtown Helena, Inc., and also works very closely with other businesses in town to collaborate and come up with ideas to improve and enrich our town. “There is a great business community in Helena. Everyone is very supportive and I’m good friends with most of the restaurant owners in town.” And, locally speaking, the Silver Star has a lot to offer: four local breweries on tap, specialty Gulch Distillers cocktails, Montana-raised beef, lamb and bison. n
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In Downtown Helena
a contemporary hotel along the historic walking mall (406) 443-2200 | 22 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601
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get out O F TOWN Sometimes, it’s nice to get out of town. Even if that means just twenty or thirty minutes out of town. It’s a destination, nonetheless, and there’s a sort of magic and mystique that comes with even a bit of travel. We hand selected some of our favorite little getaways in all their quirky, magnificent glory: Big Bull, Marysville House, York Bar and The Legal Tender. T H E B I G B U L L 6477 US-287, Winston, MT 59647 The Big Bull is a family owned and operated business in the tiny town of Winston. Just 20 minutes outside of Helena on Highway 287, this Bar and Grill offers hand cut fries, fresh (never frozen) burgers, 16 Beers on tap, and zero bull shit. They are straight shooters who are known for their hot burgers and cold beer. The Big Bull publishes a blog/newsletter called “The Bugle” which keeps their loyal fans in the know about specials and events as well as successful hunting stories and photos. The atmosphere here is laid back and it’s all about local community, good food and happy customers. *Pro tip: Big Bull does not accept credit cards, bring cash! LOCALS RECOMMEND: Smoked rib chips, Bitchin’ Chicken Sandwich, Bull Burger & Fries with any ice cold local beer on tap.
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T H E YO R K B A R 7500 York Rd, Helena, MT 59602
The Friendly York Bar is a relic. It is basically a tiny little log cabin nestled in an equally tiny “town” of York. Mountains to one side, lake to the other, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that any business is still able to thrive in such a remote setting. The drive out to York is beautiful and tranquil. Inside The Friendly York Bar, there are dollar bills stapled all over the ceiling and walls with people’s names and messages written on them. There are fresh flowers on each of the tables, an ancient piano and lots of spectacularly interesting historical black and white photographs of historical York. There’s a long, classic bar, a pool table and arcade-style video games, like PAC-MAN. One brave woman handles the daytime crowd all by herself. She mixes drinks, pours beers, and cooks burgers. It’s impressive, to say the least. When your food order is ready, you’ll just hear your name shouted out,which means your order is ready and you need to come and get it at the bar, pronto. Every meal is served with a YORK peppermint patty which is sweet. This is a place where the journey to the bar is just as special as the place itself, and if you’re on the journey to York, it probably means you have a fun day in store. Just arrive, embrace the story of the place, sit back and relax in this amazing old time spot. LOCALS RECOMMEND: Swiss Mushroom Burger with Local Draft Beer. The first thing that will likely happen to you when you arrive at The Marysville House is that you’ll find yourself at the front door, asking yourself “Is this really the front door?” It would be surprising if that door has been replaced in the last 100 years. Inside, the plaid wallpaper looks like a worn out lumberjack’s favorite flannel. If there is wood here it is either burning in the fireplace or carved with someone’s initials, forever. If there is metal, it is either a horseshoe, a steak knife, a railroad tie or an old fashioned latch to cold beer or cold cash. If there’s glass, it’s either a mason jar filled with T H E MA R Y S V I L L E HO U S E 153 Main St, Marysville, MT 59640
Pictured: The York Bar
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whiskey or wine, a bottle of beer or the cover of an oil burning lantern. The fact of the matter is, you’ll find yourself standing in what was once The Silver City Northern Pacific Railroad Station. Same place, different time. Bet you couldn’t order Lobster in a basket back then. You can now, and you should. LOCALS RECOMMEND: 1/2 Grilled Chicken, Lobster tail, Burger and a Beer. T H E L E G A L T E N D E R 7 Legal Tender Ln, Clancy, MT 59634 The Legal Tender is not only a really great restaurant, it’s also just a great place to be. There is a small dining room and a larger bistro/pub area. The decor is fun and celebrates the area's mining legacy well. Black and white photographs, mining claim maps, lanterns, and tools from long ago are perfectly displayed and add so much personality to the place. About 20 minutes from Helena, The Legal Tender is located in the tiny town of Clancy. Long ago, Clancy was a mining district and after a long day at the mines locals would gather over good food and beer to reward themselves for the hard work they’d put in. The Legal Tender intends to keep that tradition alive and does so with weekly live music and dancing, really tasty dishes and a great selection of beer and wine. They also have fun cocktails named things like, the “Moscow Mule” and the “Rusty Nail”. Perfect for a date night or dinner with the family! LOCALS RECOMMEND : Filet Mignon, Carrot Cake (w/sea salt caramel), Moscow Mule. n
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2 6 | T H E LO C A L - H E L E N A Pictured: The General Mercantile
P H OTO B Y : J A S ON O ’ N E I L
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PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER C A F F E I C CO F F E E R OA S T E R S When Rayna Bouma woke in Peru one morning, she had the first thought many of us have upon waking. Coffee. What she didn’t realize at that moment, while still lying in bed in a foreign country on a missions trip, was the impact of that one cup. Upon first sip, her curiosity piqued. Wow, this is really good and really different than any coffee I’ve ever tasted. She didn’t think much of it at the time, just really appreciated and savored the new taste. But, morning after morning, one cup at a time, an impression was made and she returned home with a strong yearning to know more about other coffees around the world. A dream was percolating. Scott Bouma and Rayna share a love of coffee, science and family. They also love Montana. So, as they continued to learn more about coffee, roasting their own beans became a hobby. Rayna discovered the air popcorn machine method of home roasting and scored their first “roaster” from the thrift store. They mail ordered beans from around the world.
Pictured: Caffeic Coffee House
Having strong roots in science, both Rayna and Scott enjoy testing and tinkering with the unique chemistry of each bean varietal in order to perfect the roasting process. Their close study soon took on a life of its own. Scott brought his engineering knowledge to the table, dialing all the elements in and fine-tuning. Rayna, trained as a veterinarian, approached the project with careful observation, taking note and helping to see the big picture. It wasn’t long before the couple realized they wanted to take this from hobby to business. The intention came not only out of their enjoyment and passion but also a longing to bring something new to Helena. To expand the coffee scene in our small town seemed like an exciting and important endeavor. And the fact that it could all happen right from their home was certainly alluring. So, in 2017, they made the leap. Caffeic Coffee Roasters was born and just one year in, they offer an impressive 7 single origin coffees and 3 blends. They even have a great decaf, which, they somewhat begrudgingly created for Scott’s mom, an avid decaf drinker. The coffee is simply delicious. Comparable to a fine wine or micro-crafted beer, each sip offers an experience that far exceeds your average cup of joe. The El Salvador, for example, is “bold yet smooth with tasting notes of brown sugar, malt syrup, and graham cracker.” Rayna explains that one of her favorite compliments is when people taste the coffee and exclaim, “I wouldn’t even need to add sugar to this!” The well rounded flavor and lack of bitterness is a surprise to many. Montana has a tradition of drinking super dark, sometimes burned, often over-extracted coffee. Sure, it tastes strong, but does it taste good? It’s a question worth exploring. Another favorite: Ethiopia which has rich blueberry notes and a clean, light body. The roastery is humbly tucked beneath the family’s home, in what would be a garage if it weren’t a coffee laboratory of sorts. It is small,
efficient, well organized and, conveniently, attached. Rayna moves about the space with confidence and precision. While roasting, Rayna and her son James use a software to track the various stages. It reads different elements, temperature, humidity, etc., and helps indicate what move to make and when. Caffeic has embraced this technology to assure consistency. Plus, it’s been handy to be able to refer to a past record of how each type of bean performed. Although the software makes a great assistant, it does not call the shots. Rayna and James hold a sharp sensory awareness during each roast. They are intensely focused watching, listening, smelling- -attuned to every nuance. In roasting, every second counts. It’s a touchy, tender process that requires full attention from start to finish. Each batch takes roughly 20 minutes and when the roasted beans are finally released into the cooling bin, they are gently stirred and sifted to equalize the temperature. The result is a sweet, aromatic and visual delight.
COFFEE REVIEW SCORE OF 93. GROWN BY FARMERS IN BURUNDI RECOVERING FROM CIVIL WAR.
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James, 15, roasts for his family’s business on a weekly basis. He speaks of his work with a gentle smile, a subtle pride and a quiet sense of humor. Rayna treats James with the utmost respect and it is clear that she has confidence in his ability to do a great job. She occasionally oversees the process giving a nod here and a smile there when James looks up for confirmation. James has proven his high level of craftsmanship and clearly cares about nailing the roast every time. As the beans reach their finishing point James and Rayna make eye contact, check the graph on the software and James makes the final call to release the beans into the cooling tray. Rayna nods and as the caramel colored beans pour out, they both inspect them closely and Rayna extends a compliment, “I think they look beautiful, James.” The respect between them is palpable. When it comes to the farmers’ market, it’s a family affair and the girls, Elise, 14 and Amy, 11 tend to run the show. Scott and Rayna are
on site every Saturday assisting and answering questions. The girls offer freshly brewed pour- overs as well as cold brew on nitro tap with smiles and friendly service. Beans are available for purchase and overall it is a charming scene, fulfilling a previously unmet demand for small batch craft coffee in Helena. Aside from the farmers’ market, Caffeic coffee sells at Dinners Done Right and Great Divide Cyclery, of all places. The really great option, though, is to sign up for a subscription online. Say what? Yes, sign up online and delicious, fresh, local coffee will arrive on your doorstep at whatever weekly interval you’d prefer. Most popular is the twice monthly, every other week option. Think about it, you’d never run out of coffee again, be supporting a great local business and have amazing coffee to begin every day. That’s a subscription I can get behind. Also, talk about a great (and unique gift.) n
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CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF SERVING HELENA AND LEWIS & CLARK COUNTY! VISIT LCLIBRARY.ORG FOR A CALENDAR OF EVENTS. HELENA • AUGUSTA • EAST HELENA • LINCOLN • BOOKMOBILE
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G E N E R A L M E R C A N T I L E 413 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601 At the General Mercantile Lindsey Barnes’ regulars are so reliable that if one of them doesn’t show up for coffee at the counter, she’ll get in her car and drive by their home to make sure they’re okay. “I’ve always had an affinity for crotchety old men,” she says shrugging and smiling. As we talk about "The Merc", which Lindsey and her husband, Aaron, took over last year, we sip the piping hot, freshly brewed coffee that many locals swear by. Having grown up in Alaska, Lindsey feels at home in what she lovingly refers to as her “Barnwood Empire.” She fell in love with the place when she visited Helena for the first time 19 years ago. She had the experience that is so commonly shared when first stepping foot in the General Mercantile. It is truly like stepping into another time. The creaky old floorboards are built of reclaimed wood, old-fashioned candy and toys line the walls, and a manual espresso machine slowly releases espresso shots with thick, golden crema. People here still make eye contact and have actual conversations. Children play and sip hot cocoa or Italian sodas. Customers are greeted, one after another, on a first-name basis. Lindsey and Aaron’s story pivots on a well known Helena character, Ray Domer, who opened the General Mercantile 45 years ago and has become somewhat of a local legend. The Merc has grown and morphed into a cafe, gift emporium, and family gathering hub. All throughout, Ray provided a safe haven where community members became family. Lindsey worked for Ray for decades before taking the reigns and the two of them, upon meeting, became fast friends. Eventually, a working partnership formed and Lindsey took over the scheduling and other tasks to help The Merc run smoothly as business continued to flourish. “It became home to me. The Merc still feels like more of a home than anywhere I’ve ever lived,” explains Lindsey.
PHOTOS by JASON O’NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
3 2 | T H E LO C A L - H E L E N A Pictured: Lindsey Barnes
It’s been about 2 years since The Merc changed hands and Lindsey and Aaron are happier than ever. “It was a long and hectic transition. When we first took over, there was a lot to be done and we were heading straight into the holiday season. I was still teaching, and Aaron was working full time. Those were long days,” Lindsey recalls. She and Aaron mention how they have always admired Ray’s lifestyle, the fact that his work life blended with his personal life in the best possible way. Now, they enjoy this same rare pleasure. “Our days are just our days. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’. I come to work, drink coffee, chat with the regulars, take care of my staff, take care of a few things, laugh and banter, and call it a day. It’s pretty great.” Lindsey lights up as she speaks, and as customers trickle in and out, many stop to say hello and exchange grins. The level of respect operating within the cozy reclaimed wooden walls of The Merc is worth mentioning. It exists between Lindsey and her staff, who she trusts implicitly. It is found between the red leather bar stools and in the relationships of those who frequent them. People order drinks and then pay, honor- system style, on their way out. The Merc is not only a great place to meet friends for coffee or tea (there are several nooks and crannies to sit and have an intimate conversation), it is also an excellent place to find the perfect gift. Lindsey, having taught World Culture at Helena High for 10 years, delights in picking out merchandise from markets and shops while she and Aaron are traveling. The result is a collection of eclectic goods: everything from soaps to flasks, stationary to socks. And, the card selection is tough to beat. Not much has changed since Ray retired. The menu has remained the same. Lindsey and Aaron did install an iPad with Square in order to speed up the checkout process, which has helped tremendously. And, in order to modernize this step, The Merc needed high speed, quality wi-fi service. So, they
got it, which was a blessing and a curse and presented a bit of a dilemma in what to do next. “I walked in one day and suddenly every table had one person with their headphones in, zoned in on their computer, working.” Even the regulars commented and joked with Lindsey, 'Since when did we turn into an internet cafe?!' We deliberated, researched, and made the call. We had to, it was changing the culture of the cafe too much and we simply don’t have enough tables to support that type of business. We wanted to be the cafe where people came to relax and take a break and talk to each other, that’s what we had always been and we really wanted to keep it that way.” Before, Lindsey explained that Ray had internet but it was pretty slow and often unreliable. So, it worked because it was there but people didn’t come just for that. Once they got really good wi-fi, it attracted a whole different clientele. Ray suffered an illness which ushered him into retirement and raised a lot of local concern. As he began to improve, Lindsey has had the chance to talk with Ray, who she lovingly calls her Captain, and to ask his opinion on how he feels things are going. “It’s been such a huge relief,” Lindsey explains. “When Ray got sick, we didn’t know how he’d feel about us taking over and any changes we made. We really worried about it and I think if I had not had the chance to talk with him, I would always have wondered if he was proud of the job we were doing. It always would have been in the back of my mind. Now, I know he approves. I know he thinks we’re doing a great job and that makes everything feel really, really good. It’s given us the confidence we needed.” The Merc is open 7 days a week serving light pastries, strong, hand-pulled espresso, single brewed cups of coffee, and other delightful beverages. You’ll find gifts, bulk teas, and other goodies as well as friendly, heartful baristas and regulars just waiting to welcome you to their home away from home. n
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Cold One I T ' S A PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER Nick Diehl began homebrewing on his
own nearly 13 years ago. One day, a friend mentioned that there was a homebrewing club in town and invited him to come check it out. He got more involved in the local homebrewing scene and began to take note of one other brewer, in particular, who kept showing up with consistently killer beer. After realizing the beer admiration was mutual, Nick and David McKeever became friends. It wasn’t long before they planned a collaborative brewing session and, in a way, they really haven’t quit. That was nearly 8 years ago. Nick and David lightheartedly dreamed of one day opening up their own brewery. They were both extremely busy though, Nick working on his family’s farm, David serving as President of Silver City Stone. The details of starting a new business seemed overwhelming and out of reach. That is, until they met Mick Mondloch, a Butte-based anesthesiologist and beer
Pictured: Crooked Furrow
drinking PTA meeting attendee. If he hadn't been enticed by free beer, he might not have gone. Mick showed up on the scene with the drive, means and go get ‘em attitude to team up and make this long-standing dream a reality. “Mick’s more of a doer than a talker,” Nick laughs. “And before we knew it, we were drawing up business plans, looking into possible locations and purchasing brewing equipment in Portland.” The brewery opened its doors to the public on June 1, 2018, in a new building on North Roberts Street. “It’s nice because the location opens up new options for people where they don’t have to go out of their way to grab a beer and relax in the taproom. When the traffic gets really bad on this side of town, as it sometimes does, people can just duck in real quick, have a beer and head back out. We’ve heard a lot of feedback about folks really appreciating our location in that way.”
The brewery has character, is spacious, comfortable and modern. Some of the wood accents, around the tap handles for example, are made of reclaimed wood from Nick’s family farm and came from the original grainery on their property, a building that was constructed in the 1880’s. Some other wooden pieces were extracted from David’s family farm in Fort Benton. An unlikely blend of stainless steel and timber, the space really seems to represent the blend of the three main owners - history and tradition with a touch of modern, bold nuance. And you could easily say the same of their beer which, I must say, totally blew my mind. I’d highly recommend the Coffee Stout (brewed using Florence Coffee- local- yay!) The three owners, all Montana natives, set out to create a place where the average person could come and enjoy a beer, yes, but they also wanted to cultivate a place where passionate beer nerds could flock and get technical in their tasting and celebration of the brewing tradition. Mission accomplished. n
Now Open 12-8pm • Monday-Sunday
406.422.5975 2801 N. Roberts • Helena MT 59601 crookedfurrowbrewing.com
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