By EBS Staff

Best of Big Sky votes were collected throughout the region during December and the voters have spoken! In 2015, we saw voter participation more than double from last year, making it the most successful Best of Big Sky contest to date.

Best Outdoor Retailer: Grizzly Outfitters



With a friendly staff embracing a work-hard-play-hard ethos, Grizzly has plenty of outdoor experience and local knowledge to impart to customers. “Our staff absolutely lives and dies by the sports they love,” said Andrew Schreiner, who owns Grizzly with Ken Lancey. “My staff, I feel, is the best in Big Sky.”

Although they’ve developed a reputation for attentive boot fitting and cutting-edge ski tuning, it would be a mistake to overlook Grizzly’s summer offerings like fly fishing gear and mountain bike servicing. (406) 995-2939

2nd place: East Slope Outdoors
3rd place: Gallatin Alpine Sports

Best Business: Lone Peak Brewery and Taphouse

Big Sky’s best business in 2015, as voted on by survey Best_business_Lone_Peakrespondents, is also Big Sky’s first brewery. Founded in 2007 by Steve and Vicky Nordahl, Lone Peak Brewery and Taphouse offers entertainment in the upstairs loft as well as an eclectic menu and multiple tap beers brewed on premises.

The key to running a successful business in Big Sky is catering to the variety of clientele that frequent this resort town, according to Steve, a 24-year brewing veteran.

“You have to take care of locals but have to attract the tourists,” he said. “One of the keys to our success is that we get a good crossover support.” (406) 995-3939

2nd place: Gallatin Alpine Sports
3rd place: Lone Mountain Ranch

Best Apres Ski: Gallatin Riverhouse Grill

Best_Apres_Ski_RiverhouseGallatin Riverhouse Grill owners Kyle Wisniewski and Greg “Carnie” Lisk have brought their restaurant from the ashes of Half Moon Saloon to the height of Big Sky barrooms and eateries. Following a long day on the slopes at Big Sky Resort, skiers are turning south on Highway 191 to the Riverhouse seeking the après affair they long for.

“They come here for the views, the menu and the local camaraderie,” says Lisk, who opened the barbecue joint in summer 2013. “It’s awesome.” (406) 995-7427

2nd place: Lone Peak Brewery
3rd place: Scissorbills Saloon

Best Burger: Lone Peak Brewery and Taphouse

Come for the beer and stay for the burger at Lone Peak BreweryBest_Burger_Lone_Peak
and Taphouse. With a 1/3-pound of juicy Montana beef, this burger will satiate any powder hound after a long day on the slopes.

For a couple extra bucks you can “Make ‘Em Angry” with pepper jack cheese, jalapeño spread and chipotle, among other specialties. Wash it down with a Lone Peak IPA and those tired ski legs will come back to life. (406) 995-3939

2nd place: Gallatin Riverhouse Grill
3rd place: Corral Bar, Steakhouse and Motel

Best Real Estate Agency: L&K Real Estate

best_real_estate_l&KBetween the two of them, Eric Ladd and Ryan Kulesza have almost three decades of experience selling real estate in Big Sky. Although both have been recognized with top real estate awards, Kulesza says, “There’s not an award in the world that means as much as having local support.”

“As a firm, we are committed to being an integral part of the community,” Ladd said, adding that L&K was able to support 24 charities the past year. (406) 995-2404

2nd place: Christie’s International Real Estate/Pure West
3rd place: ERA

Best Builder: Big Sky Build

Builders in Big Sky these days are plentiful, to say the least.



But when the sawdust settled, voters named Big Sky Build the best of the best. John Seelye founded Big Sky Build in 1997, bringing his knowledge and expertise in building high-end mountain homes with him.

Focusing on top-quality craftsmanship and customer satisfaction, Seelye and his team aim to surpass expectations on any aspect and aren’t shy about their results. According to Big Sky Build’s mission, “…Our team is simply a cut above the rest.” (406) 995-3670

2nd place: Haas Builders
3rd place: Lone Pine Builders

Best Architect: Centre Sky

best_architect_centre_skyWith challenges ranging from snow and topography to construction budgets, designing structures in Big Sky isn’t for the faint of heart, but Centre Sky owner Jamie Daugaard said the opportunity to design unique architecture for unique sites makes it worthwhile.

Centre Sky works hard to translate a client’s aesthetic sensibility into its designs. “We really listen to the nouns and verbs clients use and [turn] that into a graphic sense,” said Daugaard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP. (406) 995-7572

2nd place: Locati Architects
3rd place: Pearson Design Group

Best Big Sky Brewery: Beehive Basin Brewery

Casey Folley and Andy Liedberg on July 25 held the grand opening Best_brewery_Beehiveof Beehive Basin Brewery with a pig roast and full pints of their craft beer.

Located south of Roxy’s Market in Big Sky Town Center, Beehive edged out Lone Peak Brewery by 5 percentage points in one of the closest Best of Big Sky contests.

Beehive’s tasting room is open everyday from 12-8 p.m. Prost! (406) 995-7444

2nd place: Lone Peak Brewery

Best Bozeman Brewery: Bozeman Brewing Co.



In Bozeman, college kids, entrepreneurs, investors and ranchers agreed: Bozeman Brewing Company makes the best beer in town. What started with a single flagship brew, called Bozone Select Amber Ale, has now increased to four everyday beers as well as four rotating seasonal brews.

The company’s website promotes its love for what it deems priorities: “ … We love Montana almost as much as we love beer.”

Sláinte, BBC! (406) 585-9142

2nd place: Bridger Brewing
3rd place: 406 Brewing Company

Best Teacher: Jeremy Harder

Since 2000, each Ophir Elementary fourth grade class has



experienced the kind of leadership, kindness and enthusiasm that would have any principal in the nation knocking on one door: that of Jeremy Harder.

Weaving technology into his lessons, and at the same time instilling a love of the outdoors in his students, Harder leans on work ethic, cooperation and honesty as pillars of learning. But he says the honor isn’t his alone.

“Like a healthy ecosystem, there is no one teacher that makes more of a difference when compared to another,” Harder says. “Without continued support of staff, administration, parents, community and school board I would be unable to explore the awesome things we do in fourth grade. To be recognized makes me truly humble and appreciative of the Big Sky Community.”

2nd place: Tony Coppola
3rd place: Stacey Fancher

Event of the Year: Big Sky PBR

IMG_4460The Big Sky PBR expanded to a three-night event in 2015, with a multiact concert in the bull-riding arena closing out the festivities on Saturday. Headlined by Robert Earl Keen, the lineup included local bluegrass band Two Bit Franks and a rocking set by New York City’s Jamie McLean Band.

On Thursday and Friday nights, fans were treated to some of the meanest bulls Chad Berger has ever brought to Big Sky. Not a single cowboy was able to hold on for three rides, and Stetson Lawrence already had the championship locked up when he was bucked in the final round.

The cowboys agree with Big Sky voters, too – they named it PBR Event of the Year for the third year running. Tickets go in sale in June for the 2016 edition. (406) 995-2055

2nd place: Music in the Mountains
3rd place: Big Sky Resort Pond Skim

Best Big Sky Music Venue: Town Center Stage

Hosting outdoor events throughout the summer, including Best_music_BS_TCShakespeare in the Parks, Big Sky’s Fourth of July concert, and the weekly Music in the Mountains series, Town Center Stage brings this resort community together.

This year the Arts Council of Big Sky will add two more Thursday night shows to its Music in the Mountains schedule, which runs from June 23 to Sept. 1. (406) 586-9629

2nd place: Gallatin Riverhouse Grill
3rd place: Lone Peak Brewery

Best Bozeman Music Venue: The Filling Station

Best_music_boz_filler_2Affectionately known as “The Filler,” this roadhouse on Bozeman’s North Rouse Avenue has hosted quality bands and delighted fans for decades. From up-and-coming acts like Blitzen Trapper to local favorites including Pinky and the Floyd, The Filling Station consistently packs its friendly confines.

With every show presided over by an antique Mobil gas station Pegasus sign, you’re guaranteed to get your musical fill at The Filler.
(406) 587-0585

2nd place: Faultline North
3rd place: Emerson Cultural Center

Best Bartender: Greg ‘Carnie’ Lisk

If you’re looking for more than a cold cocktail in Big Sky – Best_Tender_Carnieperhaps a south Texas quip or a joke at your expense – look no further than the bar at the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill where Greg “Carnie” Lisk swills suds to customers’ delight.

“I love bartending and Kyle loves cooking,” says Lisk, referring to his business partner Kyle Wisniewski. “What better way to work with your best buddy. I get people a buzz and he feeds ‘em up!”

2nd place: Jeremy Harder
3rd place: Karen Sebastian

Best Artist/Photographer: Ryan Turner



Ryan Turner has lived in Big Sky 15 years and has been shooting photos in the area for nearly two decades. With his wife Angie, Turner sells prints out of his Bighorn Shopping Center gallery next to the Bugaboo Café and his work has been featured in many national publications, including Powder, Ski, Men’s Journal and
National Geographic Adventure magazines.

“I think it’s really nice of the community to vote for me [as the best artist],” Turner said. “I feel very appreciated.” (406) 580-5997

2nd place: Kene Sperry
3rd place: Ryan Day Thompson

Best Nonprofit: Big Sky Community Corporation

Maintaining Big Sky’s parks and trails since 1998, Big Sky Best_Nonprofit_BSCC_1_croppedCommunity Corp. saw big changes in 2015. The nonprofit hired Ciara Wolfe as new executive director in July then moved its office to a new location in 32 Town Center Avenue next to Rhinestone Cowgirl.

More than 250 community volunteers and nearly 1,000 donors annually assist BSCC in its recreational resource efforts, and in 2015 as many as 45,000 users took advantage of area parks, trails and programs. (406) 993-2112

2nd place: Women In Action
3rd place: Gallatin River Task Force

Best Restaurant: Lotus Pad

Best_Restaurant_Lotus_PadSome readers may see this result in the same light as a broken record. Lotus Pad customers and EBS survey respondents see it as the truth.

For five years running, Lotus Pad has taken the honors as best restaurant in Big Sky. To Owner/Chef Alex Hoeksema, her Thai and Asian fusion dishes are the product of stellar support and service.

“My staff worked so hard this time around,” said Hoeksema, who opened the Big Sky restaurant in 2007. “Our business was up 26 percent over last year.” (406) 995-2728

2nd place: Olive B’s
3rd place: Lone Peak Brewery

Community Member of the Year: Jeremy Harder

Jeremy Harder teaches fourth grade at Ophir Elementary School; Community_Member_Harderhelps lead the Big Sky School District’s technology development; is a producer/director of the Big Sky Community Theater; drives a bus for Geyser Whitewater rafting trips in the summer; bartends once a week at Milkie’s Pizza and Pub; and is the star of a Hiball energy drink video.

Harder was also integral in founding the Sons of the American Legion, Post 99 last summer – there are few elements of Big Sky that he doesn’t have an interest in, and he’s appreciative to be voted 2015’s Community Member of the Year.

“It makes be proud to be part of this community for the past 15 years,” Harder said. “Thank you.”

2nd place: Ron Edwards
3rd place: Lynne Anderson