Subscribe for 17¢ / day
Reid Pyburn

Reid Pyburn is part owner of the High Horse Saloon and Eatery in downtown Billings.

A veteran of the Billings restaurant scene has taken over a downtown lounge and country western dance hall and added his culinary touch.

Reid Pyburn, 37, of Billings, is now part owner of the High Horse Saloon and Eatery, formerly Montana Chad’s at 3953 Montana Ave. Pyburn was a longtime cook at the Rex downtown, and he said he’d been looking at ownership opportunities outside the state when this one popped up.

Pyburn and partners Jim Kisling and Scott Ugrin, both local contractors, have spent about $250,000 to remodel the facility. This includes a new bar, new flooring, 12 additional beer taps, a photo wrap by the stage of galloping horses’ hooves and other improvements.

“We’re dressing up for the prom,” Pyburn said last week.

With Kisling’s and Ugrin’s connections in the construction industry, renovations were completed swiftly, and the casino never closed during the ownership change, Pyburn said.

The business reopened April 25 under the High Horse name.

The spot is best known as longtime home of Montana Chad’s. About two years ago, the name changed to Smitty after the business was sold, but it went back to the original owners and Montana Chad’s last year.

Pyburn said the casino and bar remain the core of the business, but he’s determined to make a name for his food, too. The menu is simple but heavy on homemade ingredients: fresh fries, steak and omelets and pancakes for breakfast.

“It’s not your typical casino/bar menu. Prime rib, all day,” Pyburn said.

“I knew the food would be good, but I didn’t know it would be received like this.”

The High Horse still has its outdoor patio, live country music on weekends and free dancing lessons Tuesday nights. The lounge has about 25 employees, mostly former Montana Chad’s workers, Pyburn said.

High Horse Saloon and Eatery is open from 8 a.m. to closing daily, which is at least midnight. Call 259-0111 for more information.

Activity at former Vann's site

Work is underway to build new storage space for Lowe’s Home Centers at the former Vann’s appliance store at 2647 King Ave. W., according to city building permits.

The permit states that Lowe’s is spending about $10,000 to install racking to store overflow materials in the former appliance store.

A spokeswoman for North Carolina-based Lowe’s said the company has no plans to bring a new store to Billings. Lowe’s operates a retail box store a block away at 2717 King Ave. W.

The owners of Vann’s, Florida-based Khaledi Group, closed at the end of 2014. The chain was in the news recently when its former chief financial officer, Paul Nisbet, pleaded guilty to federal charges that he conspired with former Chief Executive Officer Leslie Manlove to defraud the Missoula-based company and force it into bankruptcy as far back as 2011.

Manlove has pleaded not guilty to more than 200 charges of conspiracy and fraud and is scheduled for trial in October.

The Khaledi Group bought the chain out of bankruptcy and has closed all stores.

IRS shows some heart

If you did the time in the hoosegow for a crime you didn't commit, and then won some kind of financial settlement, chances are the IRS was first in line to collect a big chunk of it.

A new rule, however, offers the wrongly convicted a one-year window to file for a refund of the taxes paid.

Before Congress passed the new rule in December, that restitution was considered income.

Haikus from the valley

According to a new survey from, about 66 million Americans have zero dollars saved for an emergency.

Members of my generation, Generation X, are the worst offenders: one-third of American ages 36-51 haven’t saved anything, compared to 27 percent in the same boat ages 18 and above.

So this got me thinking. Is this further evidence we children of the late '80s and '90s were truly the Slacker Generation, wallowing in our grunge music and multiple “Reality Bites” viewings when we should have been looking for jobs, and no, starving artist doesn’t count?

Maybe. But something else hit us pretty hard in the wallet, too, and it wasn’t all our own bad decisions and broken dreams.

Hard to save money

After recession destroyed

Your financial health

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.