GREAT FALLS — Construction continues on The Wild Hare in downtown Great Falls; the new bar and lounge is being built in the space formerly occupied by The Lobby Bar and Maria's Restaurant at 518 of Central Avenue.
The group behind the work, the Goat Group, said the renovation is being done in three phases.
"It's a 106-year old building. We keep finding things we didn't know we were going to find. For instance, in the back where the liquor closet was, the last liquor closet, we took down a wall and found two urinals and a toilet with 1960 tiles on it,” explained Matthew Robb, one of the Goat Group partners.
Robb hoped to have phase one done and be open in about two months with phase two taking about six months to complete.
"Maria's Restaurant was our last tenant. Her restaurant was at the front. The plan is to basically make that into a working bar and liquor store and get everything up and going in that front part and then bring everybody from the back up there and that will be the working bar,” Robb explained. "It’s a little bit smaller space but it'll allow us to keep our doors open. Phase two is once that is open then we will construct the entire rear of the building."
Phase three will be turning the basement into a Prohibition-style speakeasy lounge with higher-end drinks and karaoke rooms; the downtstairs area will be called The Night Owl.
"I moved here, and I've lived here full-time since October. Just in that short amount of time, the people that I've gotten to know that are kind of in my circle I guess you could say, or even outside the circle going to Brewfest or on the golf course or wherever, everybody's super excited for it,” said Robb.
He says seeing other bars made the decision to open up in Great Falls easy.
"It was the writing on the wall when everybody was so inviting because we wanted to be a part of the community, we wanted to come and spend some money in the community, and also bring something new and fun to downtown to add on to what is already starting to build up to be a fairly awesome revitalization I guess you could say of the downtown area,” Robb said.
VIDEO - Robb explains some of the challenges of opening a new bar:
The Goat Group also operates bar and entertainment ventures in California and Hawaii; the one in Hawaii also features an animal name: The Dirty Monkey.
Just one block away at 410 Central Avenue, work is also underway on The Newberry, a new concert and entertainment venue; they announced recently their first performers - Sawyer Brown, Blue October, and Steve-O. Click here for details.