Montana owners Rachel Marshall and Kate Opatz are dealing with one of the best problems that can befall the owner of a bar, but a problem nonetheless.
Their small, dark, and divey bar opened a year ago next month, and has become so popular that drinkers often pack themselves in here like an express bus at rush hour. Montana’s kegged cocktail system can accommodate crowds with speedy drink service, but elbowing up to the bar to order one in the first place can be an adventure during prime time.
Construction began this week to expand into the space next door. Marshall has been making her eponymous Rachel’s Ginger Beer here, but she and Opatz always envisioned making this space part of Montana when the time was right…though they thought it would be more of a five-year plan.
The larger Montana will add as many as 50 seats and a small service bar (think of it as an express line) for beer, shots, and perhaps a tap or two for kegged cocktails. The wall dividing the two spaces will remain—unlike its namesake state, much of Montana’s charm comes from its close quarters—but the remodel will add a large doorway and some open spaces above the existing booths. Marshall and Opatz are adding some accordion windows in the new portion, but say the space should otherwise feel like an extension of the original black-walled Montana.
Granted, this time they can afford to work with an actual architect and contractor, Method Construction, but Opatz joked that she asks them to “underproduce” so the end result won’t look overly polished. Side note: Their project manager with Method is none other than Patric Gabre-Kidan, Ethan Stowell’s former partner who went on to manage Book Bindery before jumping into restaurant construction. Opatz and Marshall are also stockpiling more Big Sky-related signage and other swag to adorn all the additional walls.
Montana will unleash its new digs shortly after the new year. Meanwhile, Marshall has moved her ginger beer production down to a facility in South Park that lacks charm, but makes up for it with a loading dock, walk-in, plenty of sinks, and four times the space.