Bryan Stafford

Bryan Stafford stands in front of the new 2905 Montana Avenue venue on Tuesday.

LARRY MAYER/Gazette Staff

A onetime cafe on Montana Avenue is taking shape as a new venue to host art shows, theater performances, poetry readings and private parties.

The venue, named 2905 to reflect the address of the 1914 building, is owned by Grace Kim and Bryan Stafford. The Billings couple also owns Billings Open Studio.

The brick building sits between the Billings Army Navy Store and Bohemian Music in the 2900 block of Montana. Plans are to have it open in about two weeks and include the 2905 on the May ArtWalk.

“Right now we are working our way through what this is going to look like,” Kim said Tuesday. “We are very interested in having art events.”

Stafford was working on repairing holes in the brick walls on Tuesday and looking at laying a new, wood-look vinyl flooring, which will finish the extensive remodel of the building’s interior.

A few years back, the owners of the now-closed Café DeCamp purchased the building and were considering moving their restaurant there, but plans folded, and it came up for sale again.

Kim and Stafford purchased it in April 2015. The building, which has two apartments on the second floor, was most recently used as an office for a pawn shop.

Floor-to-ceiling windows framed in weathered barn wood distinguish 2905 from other nearby buildings. Stafford said working on the building for the past few months has been encouraging.

“I find it exhilarating to see how much traffic Montana Avenue gets. It’s nice to be part of the buzz of downtown,” Stafford said.

Already, the site has hosted the Downtown Billings Alliance quarterly meeting in February, and two events are set, including an April 13 event that is part of the Spring Pulitzer Campfire. It will feature Billings poet Dave Caserio, musician Parker Brown and dancer Krista Leigh-Pasini. Pasini is also renting 2905 to host a theater event later in April.

The space is 2,000 square feet and holds 123 people. It is outfitted with a bathroom, tables and chairs, and a kitchen area with a refrigerator and sink.

There have been some interesting discoveries with the renovation of the building, including finding buffalo bricks out front and a ghost sign on the exterior that reads “Eats.” Stafford also found a photo from the 1920s that showed the building as a cafe.

Stafford installed industrial-grade steel beams for support and opened a narrow doorway between the main room and a back room. A DBA grant helped pay for the required sprinkler system.

“We’re hoping this becomes a go-to-place because there is definitely a niche here. We’re not the Depot, but we have a nice space that is affordable and has a cool vibe,” Stafford said.

For more information on 2905, visit 2905montana.com.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.