By Brandon Walker EBS COMMUNITY EDITOR
BIG SKY – Owners of Copper, the popular Bozeman-based restaurant and bar, have officially opened their doors for business in Big Sky Town Center. Located inside the Wilson Hotel lobby, Copper held a steady stream of soft-open events leading up to the grand opening that took place Feb. 21.
Owners kicked things off with a soft opening on Feb. 7 and the official opening on Feb. 11, before the grand opening.
The interior of the Copper location in Big Sky welcomes patrons into a warmly lit space with an abundance of natural light from the large exterior windows. The restaurant is complete with a fireplace, accompanied by dark walls and ample seating throughout the bar and floor area.
Casey Durham, who founded both locations, is a Bozeman native thrilled about the opportunity to set up shop in Big Sky.
When asked in a phone interview with EBS, Durhamn described what he is most excited for with the opening of the Big Sky location: “Probably just the growth and seeing how this location does. The hardest part about Big Sky, somewhat, is you just don’t know how fast Town Center is going to grow around you,” said Durham, “Obviously, the Town Center is still fairly new, but we do have a lot of confidence in our brand and being accepted in the community.”
Durham manages Copper with the assistance of hospitality group Ok Cool, which has played a large role in the successful launch of the second location, Durham said.
The original Copper location in Bozeman opened six years ago and isn’t the only bar and restaurant venture that Durham has taken on over the years. Aside from the original Copper, he also had a hand in founding Bozeman’s Kitty Warren and El Camino bars.
Durham attended Montana State University where he studied marketing and added a minor in entrepreneurship. Initially, he wasn’t headed down a career path in the bar and restaurant industry, instead beginning in real estate.
“Real estate development and restaurants kind of go hand in hand somewhat, because you’re always looking for restauranteurs to lease your space,” Durham said. “I was always putting together opportunities and deals through real estate and [and] my focus is now more a restauranteur than it is a real estate developer.”
Similar to its founder, Copper has started down a new path as well. Durham explained that when it was founded the intent was for Copper to be mainly a bar, but over time the food has gained popularity.
“It just started as us trying to create a really cool niche for ourselves in more of a bar concept,” he said. “But like I said our food has really started to take off over the last three [or] four years from when we first opened.”
Durham and Ok Cool have made it a point to keep the theme and menu as consistent as possible between the two locations, although Durham did note that there are more steak options at the new Big Sky location. Depending on the interest within Big Sky Town Center, Durham mentioned the possibility of another Copper opening in Big Sky in the future.