The owners of For the Funk of It, a Billings South Side vintage shop, are opening a new breakfast-and-lunch eatery across the street in the historic L&L Building on Minnesota Avenue.
Owners Melody and Tammy Fletcher say Mel’s Lunch Box, opening Wednesday in the former Subway sandwich shop, will serve organic, locally sourced food in a ‘50s and ‘60s style atmosphere.
The married Billings couple bought most of Subway’s restaurant equipment, including the fountain drink machine and bread oven, painted, and added their own decor.
A figurine of Marilyn Monroe in her famous, flowing white dress faces customers on Minnesota. Framed photos of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame adorn the walls, along with music, television and movie stars from decades past.
“Old nostalgia,” Tammy Fletcher said.
“It kind of fits the neighborhood,” Melody Fletcher added.
Mel’s Lunch Box will serve soup, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and breakfast food, featuring soy-free and gluten-free options. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Mel’s Lunch Box is a place for police officers, refinery workers, RiverStone Health employees and other workers “so that they have a good place to eat where they feel good about eating,” Melody Fletcher said.
The Fletchers are planning to buy local ingredients as much as possible. Bread will be from Grains of Montana, and they’re selling baked goods from Rae Rae’s Bakery on the West End.
The space at 2624 Minnesota Ave. became vacant when Subway closed in late November. Tammy Fletcher said she immediately contacted building owner Russ Plath to discuss moving in.
The Fletchers have hired Shelly Fisher, former manager of the now-shuttered Grand Bagel spot, to run the restaurant. They both also plan time at both businesses — Mel's and For the Funk of It — and eventually hope to have three employees at Mel’s.
Both women have worked in food service and operate a food truck, called Flaming Ladies.
They opened For the Funk of It two years ago directly across the street from the L&L Building at 2702 Minnesota Ave. About a year ago, they moved into a larger space on South 27th Street. They’re planning to expand again within the next month, adding a boutique, gift store and jewelry store.
The couple said they never considered expanding outside the Minnesota Avenue corridor, one of Billings’ oldest streets with a rich history.
The L&L Building, for example, dates back to the 1880s and was the center of the city’s Chinese population. It’s gained new life after Plath bought the building last summer.
“We just wanted to see this part of town grow,” Tammy said.