BOZEMAN — A year ago around this time, Montana was in the middle of a stay-at-home directive, and Downtown Bozeman was eerily quiet. Now, a year later, even on a rainy spring day, Downtown Bozeman is looking a lot more lively.
Smoke,Fire and Coal isn’t the first restaurant Michael Buck has opened in Bozeman, but it’s the first one he’s opened during a pandemic.
He says he goes back and forth between feeling: “Absolutely optimistic and terrified. I’m not gonna lie. There’s a lot of sleepless nights.”
“There’s always risk, and there’s always a little bit of uncertainty whenever you open a restaurant. That’s always there. But it’s especially true now,” he added.
Buck says the vision for his restaurant, which serves southern comfort food and southwestern barbecue, came before the pandemic.
“I think we’re in for a slammin’ 2021. I think this could be a record year for Montana and even Bozeman,”
Ellie Staley with the Downtown Bozeman Partnership says while some businesses struggled during the pandemic, many business owners are keeping their fingers crossed for some busy months to come.
“We’re seeing growth. We’re seeing lots of new businesses opening. Lots of new businesses opening. Businesses certainly are getting ready for the summer season,” said Staley.
“And we are expecting a busy summer season.”
Ryan Faber who opened Fabers Bakery in February says business so far has been steady.
“People have been looking forward to someplace new downtown. And to try something a little different. I’m trying to give it a little bit of a different flavor with the sandwich options and pastries,” said Faber.
“There’s been a surprising amount of walk-ins, of people just walking down the street from out of state and poke their head in to see what’s going on,” said Buck
So in spite of uncertain times, these business owners are keeping a positive outlook.
“I think we’re in for a slammin’ 2021. I think this could be a record year for Montana and even Bozeman,” said Buck.