By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer
BIG SKY – Along with The Cave Spirits and Gifts’ new location, and Antlers Clothing Company’s opening July 1, there are a few more changes coming to the Town Center business scene. Compass Cafe on Town Center Avenue will be remodeling and adding some new offerings, and a distillery is on the horizon for a fall 2019 opening.
Compass Cafe is on the cusp of doubling as a bar, serving beverages that showcase and support Montana businesses. Samantha VanDaele, the café’s manager, said they intend to serve beers exclusively from breweries in and near Big Sky, liquors distilled in Montana and wines curated by their new sommelier, Terrell Perdue.
Several remodels to the current space accompany the transition, such as adding a movable partition between the café and Montana Supply, the outdoor retail store with which they’d shared an open floor plan. VanDaele said the Compass bar will replace booths on the north end of the café, while a different type of bar will occupy the corner near the east entrance, serving fresh-pressed juices.Jenn Steele, of Big Sky’s Steele Pressed Juice, has partnered with Compass to serve fresh juices, smoothies, smoothie bowls, and seasonal mixers in tandem with the alcoholic drinks. With culinary training and farm experience in Hawaii, Steele has developed an interest in food medicine, tailoring her juices and smoothies to specific health needs. She expects the juice bar to open by mid-July.
As of EBS press time on July 1, Compass owner Tiffany Lach said they were waiting for news about the liquor license required to open up the Compass bar.
Barrel-aged drinks are also in Town Center’s future as Willie’s Distillery, based in Ennis, makes moves toward opening a satellite distillery across from Roxy’s Market. Robin Blazer, co-owner of the distillery with her husband Willie, said they tentatively expect to be open by fall 2019.
The timeline will depend on the expedience of the long liquor-licensing process, after which they plan to order a Bavarian Holstein copper still like the one they use to make their spirits in Ennis. Waiting for the still to be handcrafted in Germany means another six to eight months until the distillery could operate in Big Sky.
The Blazer’s have eyed Big Sky as a potential satellite location because of its rapid growth, bustling tourism and the fact that they personally like the area. The couple skis the resort every weekend and enjoys many summer days in Big Sky.
Blazer said the state requires they make all drinks on site, which necessitates a full distillery in Big Sky, rather than just a tasting room. Although that ups the ante in terms of cost to the business, Blazer is optimistic.
“We like a good challenge,” she said. They are currently securing funding, a less daunting process than when they first came to Montana looking to open a distillery. “In 2010, nobody knew what a distillery was,” she said.
Although Blazer is excited at the prospect of moving into Big Sky, she’s cautious about the economics, such as the cost of the area, the need for equity partners and the hurdle of finding employee housing.
“I think we’re going to make it happen, it’s just a question of how long it will take,” she said. “We’re actively shaking trees right now.”
Still on track for opening in Town Center in June 2019, with the completion of the Plaza Lofts building, are the Corx Winery and Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge.