Vol. 4 | Fall 2019

Nord’s incredible collection of first press original records, complete set of German album covers and 18 guitars signed by artists like REM and Journey, are some of the wares that adorn the walls. It’s a large guitar collection for someone who doesn’t play guitar, but he can’t pluck the strings while he’s conducting his cafe like a maestro conducts music. He is the master of his own rock symphony, his concerto being delicious, home-cooked food and amazing coffee, which is music we can all get behind. “This business is kind of like my home. I surround myself with things I like and I think my customers like it too. It’s very eclectic. Customers bring me art, posters, vintage black light Grateful Dead posters,” Nord says. “Half the stuff in here has been given to me by customers.” Watching Nord interact with patrons reveals that people are his number one passion. His relationships are what Nord is most proud of. “They’re like family,” he says, including staff in this statement. LP, a barista who has been working at Fire Tower Coffee for more than three years, is described as an integral part of their success. She recognizes customers in line and has their coffee ready by the time they get to the register. It’s above and beyond your run-of-the-mill coffee shop customer service and that is what Fire Tower Coffee prides itself on. “I was always in the food and beverage business,” Nord says. “I love it because I love people. It’s all about relationships. Listening, that’s the whole thing.” Nord’s daughter, Faith Johnson, Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen 2016, says, ”He’s a good father and family man, has a wacky style and likes to stand out. Everyone knows and loves my father. I’m Nord’s daughter. It’s a compliment. Customers show up just to see him. They say just seeing him made their day. Sometimes I forget that he’s my dad and not just my friend.” Of course, he’s a true lover of downtown Helena, as well. “It’s my world. I do all my shopping from locally owned shops. Downtown is the heartbeat

of Helena. It’s the historic part, where all the cool mom and pop stores are. It's about relationships. All the businesses that are successful downtown are built on relationships,” Nord says. And Nord is certainly building relationships. Besides the aforementioned suppliers of food, Fire Tower Coffee partners with Ten Mile Creek Brewery, Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, Gulch Distillers, Real Food Market & Deli, Van’s Thriftway, and Lucca’s, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Next time you find yourself downtown, stop in for a cup of coffee and strike up a conversation with Nord. Take a peek at his mismatched shoes and ask what shows he’s been to lately. Cozy up with a good book and listen to the symphony of grinding beans, casual conversation and music with a warm mug between your hands. Don’t forget to stay for lunch! A Firetower sandwich will hit the spot, guaranteed. n

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