By Joseph T. O’Connor, ExploreBigSky.com Editor
BIG SKY – Say goodbye to the Half Moon Saloon on Hwy. 191, and hello to the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill. The Half Moon closed for business last August, and the building has been an empty shell until earlier this month.
On March 13, two familiar faces finalized a deal on the property, located three miles south of the Big Sky turnoff. They plan to open the new eatery in early summer – but only after the structure, built in 1974, gets a facelift.
Former Half Moon employees Greg “Carnie” Lisk and Kyle Wisniewski teamed up to purchase the 3-acre riverfront property from Jim and Cariline Dyer, who ran the Half Moon Saloon for nine years.
Lisk and Wisniewski are equal partners in the new venture, with Wisnieswski as head chef and Lisk behind the bar. They worked on the purchase for about six months, according to Wisniewski, also the Half Moon’s former general manager.
“The fun-loving team is back together,” said Lisk, a 10-year local who was bar manager at the Half Moon for eight years. “We’ll bring it back better than it ever was.”
The new owners plan to make necessary upgrades to the building, Lisk said, installing a new roof and windows, and putting in a new well. They hope the changes will attract Yellowstone traffic as well as locals.
“Our goal is to shoot for a family-friendly establishment with reasonable prices,” said Wisniewski, who’s lived in Big Sky for 13 years.
As for food, the grill plans to offer barbeque as well as some old favorites.
“We’re bringing back the flank steak sandwich and the burgers,” Wisniewski said. “We’ll have a well-rounded grill menu where [customers can] go several times a week, rather than an expensive restaurant where [they’d] go once a month.”
The property currently has a 2,000-square-foot deck that overlooks the Porcupine Game Range and the Gallatin River.
“That property is one of the most spectacular properties in Big Sky,” said Ryan Kulesza, an L & K Real Estate broker close to the sales process. He says Lisk and Wisniewski are right for the job. “They’re young and hungry and [have] seen both good and bad.”
“Greg and I love this place,” Wisniewski said. “We’ve agreed that this is going to be our lives and we want to let the rest of Big Sky enjoy [the restaurant] and the great views.”
“The fact that we got it together and it’s ours? It’s like finding two unicorns in the same place.”