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Butte's historic M&M bar re-opens after devastating fire

Posted at 10:03 AM, Feb 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-11 12:05:48-05

BUTTE — It certainly is a happy day in Butte and the new M&M has only been open a short time but it’s already packed with people.

“I love it, John, it’s been a long time since the fire, and having this place open for this weekend is great. It’s time to start a new tradition,” said a customer Friday.

But it was a long road to get to this happy place.

Almost two years after a fire destroyed Butte’s most historic bar and grill the M&M is back.

“Oh, I’m welcoming getting back to work and getting out of this constructions business,” said M&M owner Selina Pankovich.

Owner Selina Pankovich, with help from the community and friends, is ready to reopen the M&M after the original building was destroyed in a fire on May 7, 2021.

Witness describes M&M fire

It was a challenge to rebuild in the location just north of the original. She even designed tables with the burnt-up money and drink tokens that survived the flames.

“This was actually really fun and almost maybe therapeutic to make good use of bad memories,” said Pankovich.

She’s received plenty of help from volunteers to rebuild. She credits Jon and Cassie Wick with 5518 Designs for a fundraiser that helped.

“I don’t think I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for their inspiration, you know, they pulled off that fundraiser and gave me a big wad of cash,” said Pankovich.

Many Butte people are happy to see the M&M receive new life.

“Anything’s good for Uptown Butte, you know, and the M&M’s a famous place and it’s good to have it back and I know all the Butte people are excited too, it’s a legendary place,” said Butte resident Steve Schulte.

The now-defunct M&M website provided this overview of its history:

Sam Martin and William F. Mosby were the first of many proprietors of the legendary saloon, eatery, and gambling house that has operated here since 1890. Although Martin and Mosby's tenure was short, Butte's love of nicknames endured and their initials remain as the M&M. For more than a century, the M&M never rested, serving customers around the clock. The doors were always unlocked; each subsequent owner ceremoniously and publicly disposed of the keys. The M&M catered to miners coming off their shift while the kitchen served bountiful breakfast at any hour of the day or night. When Prohibition hit, the M&M followed other Butte bars, officially becoming a cigar store. Cigars sold in the front discreetly cloaked the speakeasy in the back room, where the liquor continued to flow. The 1940's Art Deco ground-floor facade, the M&M's spectacular neon sign, and the vintage 1890's upper level have been refurbished, restoring architectural vitality to a landmark that has provided food, drink and diversion to generations of Butte residents.

The M&M will only be serving drinks on its initial opening but hopes to serve food as soon as the cooking staff is trained over the next week.

“It’s just really incredible to see how bad people want you to be open and want you to succeed and that’s a really nice feeling to belong to a community like that,” said Pankovich.

The M&M will reopen at 11 AM Saturday and Sunday.