From the 1,500-square-foot patio of the Divide Bar & Grill, customers can sip a cold one overlooking the city’s new Shiloh Conservation Area, leaving an unobstructed view of the Beartooth Mountain Range.

Owner Darrin Williams, 29, said he’s excited to be opening at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the growing Montana Sapphire subdivision, which is welcoming several new businesses this year.

The Divide sells appetizers, burgers and sandwiches with 12 beers on tap, all microbrews. Williams said it’s half bar and half grill, with a relaxing atmosphere in an up-and-coming location.

“Great bar food, with a little bit of an upscale twist,” Williams said.

The Divide is the newest business to open in the 65-acre Montana Sapphire subdivision, and developers are expecting a fast start of the year at this fast-growing retail center on Billings West End.

The Fuel Fitness gym opened last week next to the Divide. A Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is coming this spring next to the Verizon store, and Dotty’s Casino is moving into the Sapphire mall next to Steak ’n Shake.

An addition to the Rimrock Auto GMC lot will also be finished within the next few months.

“It really accelerated in 2015, and we’re taking a lot of calls in 2016,” said Blaine Poppler of Coldwell Banker Commercial, which is marketing the property.

Poppler’s partner, George Warmer, added that the subdivision is about 75 percent full and has about 17 acres left on the market. The first Montana Sapphire lots were sold in 2003, but the development really took off in 2011 after the Great Recession, Warmer said.

Plans for the Divide at 4020 Montana Sapphire Drive have been underway for about a year, when Williams won the state lottery for a new liquor license, typically worth as much as six figures.

He added that the total investment was in the millions but declined to give an exact figure. First Interstate Bank provided the financing, he said.

The building cost $885,000, according to the city of Billings. The 1.7-acre lot had been on the market for $515,315, or about $7 per square foot, according to Coldwell Banker Commercial.

The Divide has 29 employees and operates from 11 a.m. to as late as 2 a.m., depending on business. The phone number is 406-894-2206, and the website is

Beer from Billings-based breweries Uberbrew and Angry Hank’s are available on tap. Customers can also try the Divide Countryside brown ale, brewed at Uberbrew.

Williams, a 2005 Billings Skyview graduate, worked at restaurants in college at Montana State University but is relatively new to the industry. He worked in the building industry before launching this project. His wife, Cassie Williams, 32, is a real-estate agent at ReMax of Billings and helped launch the business.

In the name Divide, Williams wanted something to reflect the duality of Montana, from prairies versus mountains to Griz versus Cats. The logo depicts another take on the theme, with a rolling river splitting two mountains.

At the very least, Williams hopes the name will stick with people who are debating where to go to grab a few drinks.

“’Oh, shoot, we’re divided. Let’s go to the Divide,’” he said.



Business reporter for The Billings Gazette.