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Carbone's Pizzeria, which has been popular in the Twin Cities for half a century, has its first Montana franchise in Billings at 2240 Grand Ave. It's the only Carbone's Pizzeria outside Minnesota, plus a few in Wisconsin.

Billings native Melissa Pearson went to college in the Twin Cities, married Chris Pearson, who hails from a St. Paul suburb, and then moved back to Billings. They opened a local Carbone's on Monday night after completely remodeling a former KFC restaurant.

“Carbone's has a thin crust and fresh ingredients and probably the best cheese you'll ever find on a pizza,” she said. “We ship it in from the Twin Cities.”

The 46-seat restaurant also offers Hoagie sandwiches, stuffed meatball subs, burgers and more with local chef Rocky Connell in charge of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Chris Pearson will keep his regular job flying off to China to supervise the manufacturing of sporting goods products, including golf bags, for a company based in Taiwan. Carbone's is the couple's first restaurant.

“It's been very fun,” she said.

No lollygagging in Lockwood

Lockwood businessman Mike Willett is promising to quit at four jobs.

Business blood runs in his family's veins. So, to fill a neighborhood need, Willett has opened a self-serve Laundromat next to his Dairy Queen at 2750 Old Hardin Road in Lockwood Square.

“There's nothing out here. The nearest one was in the Heights and he got sucked up in the tornado,” he said.

The Lockwood Laundromat has all new washing machines and driers, plenty of lighting, bathrooms and 42-inch big screen TVs, which customers like, Willett said.

That's two jobs at two businesses.

For jobs 3 and 4, Willett projects his dulcet tones as “Captain Mike” on Billings radio stations 94.1 KSKY (formerly KRKX) in the mornings and on MY105.9 classic hits during evening drive times.

Rising to the occasion

If the team, which is everyone on the staff, can make it through the day before Thanksgiving at Great Harvest Bread Co., they can enjoy a four-day weekend.

Bryan and Susie Layton opened the business at 907 Poly Drive nearly five years ago. Bryan started baking at midnight to help crank out 500 to 600 dozen rolls, the most popular and most labor-intensive goodie they make because they are all hand-rolled.

“There are a dozen of us running around in this tiny space,” he said. “This is probably the single busiest day as far as workload goes.”

The Christmas and Hanukah season also is busy, but it is more spread out than Thanksgiving for this bread business. Last year, Bryan logged seven pages of advance orders with about 30 people per page or nearly 300 customers, plus walk-ins.

But the frenetic pace allows the Laytons to give their employees a long weekend and still make their monthly sales goal.

“We take the rest of the week off. It gives us a little sales boost and gives us an average month while taking a vacation,” he said.

That's probably one reason why Outside Magazine named the Great Harvest Co. franchise one of the “Best Places to Work” this year.

Can't keep a bartender retired

Despite a remote and cozy cabin around Roscoe, the Steffanich family, which ran the Circle Inn in Billings Heights for six decades, got back into the business, this time in Absarokee.

“We bought the liquor store up there,” said Lee Steffanich,

Before The Circle Inn closed April 29 and was put up for sale, Lee said he bought all his liquor from the Absarokee store. He said his wife, Betsy Steffanich, and their daughter, Afton Kale, are the owners and operators of the Absarokee Liquor Store at 20 S. Woodard Ave.

Scams du jour

Selling a treadmill on Craig's List turned out to be an expensive lesson for Cathy Lamb of Billings.

After 59 e-mails with a potential buyer who said she worked at Stanford University, Lamb closed the deal and the buyer sent a check.

Lamb wanted $800 for her treadmill and the check was for $2,500 to cover the shipping and then some.

A local bank teller checked the routing number and said the check was good, Lamb said. So she deposited it, spent some of the money and wired off some to the “shipper” in Texas. A few days later, the check bounced and she is out big bucks.

“I'm out the whole $2,500,” she said.

Remember, don't deal with people who send you more money that was agreed to and be sure to wait 10 days to make sure any large check clears before spending a penny.

And when you are holiday shopping, be sure to read the fine print. For instance, with layaways you need to know exactly when the payments must be made and whether there is a restocking fee, if you change your mind.

Laugh lines

Apparently, any shared interest can spark another Facebook group:

Students Against Backpacks with Wheels.

When I was Your Age, Pluto was a Planet.

I Don't Care if the Spider is Not Hurting Anyone, I Want it Dead.

People Who Always Have to Spell Their Names for Other People.

Source: Reader's Digest magazine.

Contact Jan Falstad at of 406-657-1306.

Contact Jan Falstad at of 406-657-1306.