By Bay Stephens EBS LOCAL EDITOR
BIG SKY – From a produce stand on the side of the road 25 years ago, to a grocery to at the corner of Skywood Road and Lone Mountain Trail, to the location in the heart of Big Sky Town Center, The Hungry Moose Market and Deli is moving up in the world once more as it expands its building and offerings.
“As Big Sky’s grown, we need a hungrier moose,” co-owner Frank Kern said.
The renovation, which will connect the space to the adjacent building, will yield 65 percent more square footage, Kern said, and allow for twice the seating, a better setup for the delivery portion of the business, expanded wine offerings and space to sell flowers.
“We’ve always been known for our selection and doing it all,” said Andrew Robin, son of the founders and head of marketing and social media for the business. “This is a huge opportunity to help us do it even better because we’ll have more space to finetune our selection … more room to walk around.”
The finished Moose will have a cooler on the west side for produce and dairy, another for beer and sodas, two coolers for flowers and a freezer as well.
Kern and his wife, Kristin, who is Big Sky visionary Chet Huntley’s niece, bought the Hungry Moose in February from Jackie Robin, who started the company with her late husband, Mark. The Kerns designed the expansion with Jackie before buying the space next door when Dino Daycare shuttered its doors in May.
Blue Ribbon Builders broke ground on the project Aug. 19 and are tactfully building so that the market and deli can stay open throughout the process.
“We are trying not to shut at all,” Kern said. “Hopefully we don’t have to close at all. If we do, it’s going to be for a day.”
The construction crew worked overnight to build a temporary wall behind the wine section that will allow daily operations to carry on as usual while the construction continues. Then, once the addition is complete, they’ll knock out the interior wall to connect the existing space to the new space.
Hungry Moose staff has been handing out free goodies, such as apples or scones, every morning at 9 a.m. to remind Big Sky that they’re open during construction.
Despite the changes, plenty is staying the same. The patio, for one, isn’t going away, the Kerns assured. Glass doors adjacent to the expanded patio will open in the summer to connect indoor and outdoor seating.
The Kerns also hired the same architect, Bayliss Ward, that designed both buildings being connected.
“We brought Bayliss back because we want the look and feel to be like it was original, not something that was stuck in,” Kern said.
The exterior will undergo a general facelift with fencing around the perimeter to make for a clean look from the outside. New signs will contribute the final touch, though they will be identical to the original design.
Throughout the process the Kerns and Andrew Robin pledge that the Hungry Moose will remain the helpful hub of Big Sky that Kristin Kern remembers experiencing long before she was an owner.
“It was like the main information center in Big Sky,” Kristen said. “… Everything I ever needed to know, I just went to the Hungry Moose.”