Meet Zach and Sarah, proprietors of The Dram Shop at 229 East Front Street. They decided to start the business after Zach had worked at Big Sky Brewery for 11 years and wanted to start something that was an extension of the brewing industry, FUN, and a new adventure for a beer lover. Located in the old Mercantile Warehouse building since 2015, they wanted to start a tap room in a high traffic area that fit the brand of their business.
They live in the Rattlesnake, known for its good elementary school, and access to recreation. Located a short distance from the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, an endless amount of activities can be enjoyed. They run, hike and mountain bike straight out of the front door, not to mention cross country ski during the winter months. It is also close enough to downtown that they can walk to work with the dog if desired.
The Blackfoot IPA is the most popular item they serve on tap, actually IPAs in general are well received; though they also serve Sours, Ciders, Kombucha, Shrubs, Soda and Wine on tap. Did someone say Wine?
The Dram hosts a series of different events: from takeovers which feature a specific brewer, to tastings and pairings that feature a certain style from various producers and local restaurants. This offers an educational opportunity, kind of like Beer School, but without grades. I give it an A+. Also on display is photography in a gallery style atmosphere. Pete Ferranti Landscapes will be hanging out on the walls from First Friday in February. There is no bar style happy hour, but they do run specials on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Meet Missoula by Mike Gillette
Alex and Christine are owners of Taste Buds Kitchen in Missoula. They are a mom and pop shop located at 131 East Main Street since 2015 with a business demographic as varied as their menus. Offering everything from Thai to Steak House items and desserts, they bring the kitchen learning experience to everyone from children to adults alike. Have your own cooking competition judged by Alex or Christine themselves at a birthday party, a family cooking class or join them twice a week for an adults only BYOB bake off. Private classes can be booked, school and group classes are also offered, but to the displeasure of teachers, alcohol is not allowed for these events.
Christine and Alex live with their four year old daughter in the South Hills because of the view, the community is cool, schools are awesome and has a great trail system with easy access to Fort Missoula Park. Not to mention four golf courses at the foot of the hills.
Catering to the professional level, they offer seasonal company parties, team building classes, and client relations evenings. Imagine for a moment, instead of taking your clients out to dinner, you can have them make their own meal. Then be judged and have to eat it! Alex says that the children’s entries usually end up tasting as they should according to the recipe, but that every once in a while the adults turn in a shocker. Too much salt bæ, not enough pepper. No loser is ever chosen, and no one is ever voted out, but there is a winner every time.
Taste Buds is currently registering their Summer Camps for kids, with a new theme every week.
When asked what advice he would give to anyone starting their own business: do their research and look for something that is missing from the market. Perhaps a new franchise trending nationally with a long term business plan. Taste Buds is the only franchise this far west and located in a non metro area.
The thing Alex, a native of Kalispell, likes most about Missoula is, “The people and the river through town. Mostly just the weird people”. If you are looking to move to Missoula Alex recommends checking out the Kim Williams Trail and Downtown. Co-worker Julia throws in her two cents and mentions to get a bike.
Call Taste Buds Kitchen at 406 616 2837 or check out http://tastebudskitchen.com/missoula/ for more information