Virgil Blanchard is combining a little taste from home with Montana comfort food at his new restaurant and casino, The Bayou of Montana.
Blanchard and his wife, Dera Blanchard, opened The Bayou of Montana last month at 5448 Laurel Road, tucked in a neighborhood mixed with homes and small residential businesses.
Blanchard said he bought the building when it was occupied by another restaurant, also with Bayou in the name. That place moved out, so Blanchard spent $10,000 on a remodel this summer, according to Billings city building permits.
About a half-dozen flat screen TVs are on the walls, and the liquor store has a prominent display next to the bar. Blanchard also brought a few features from home, such as a skinned alligator on one wall and a framed Louisiana State University football jersey on another.
The Bayou of Montana serves most staples: chicken, nachos, burgers, wraps, taco salad. Specials, depending on season, are the southern classics: gumbo, crawfish and shrimp po’boys.
“What we tried not to do is shock, change the palate. That’s why we kept the basic stuff, burgers, fries and tacos, and do daily specials,” said Blanchard, 46.
The Bayou of Montana has about 15 employees, including manager Susan Mill. Dera Blanchard will also be at the restaurant regularly. Virgil Blanchard has a full-time job in environmental services.
Virgil Blanchard moved to Montana about five years ago and owns other restaurants in Louisiana and Massachusetts.
The Bayou of Montana has 20 gaming machines partitioned off in one corner. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The phone number is 256-2092.
City Brew growing
The 406 Kitchen & Taproom celebrated its grand opening last week, and it will soon have new neighbors.
Construction of a new City Brew coffee shop will begin next year next to the former Rock Pile at 1231 N. 27th St. A new office building will also be built at the vacant space, according to contractor Jake Brosovich, owner of Yellowstone Basin Construction.
Brosovich is also part owner of the 406 Kitchen and Taproom.
Bryan Taylor, general manager of the bar and grill, said business has been steady during lunch and dinner. 406 reopened in September after a $1.2 million renovation.
Cargo up for holidays
Good news for retailers: Imported container cargo at major ports are up this holiday season, which likely signifies a rise in demand, according to the National Retail Federation.
Imports are expected to rise 4.4 percent this month compared to November 2015, and rise again next month, according to the trade group’s Global Port Tracker released with Hackett Associates.
After a slow summer, import volume jumped in October compared to last year and continued at the start of November, indicating that retailers are restocking shelves to boost inventory, according to analyst Jonathan Gold of the National Retail Federation.
The trade group is also forecasting $655.8 billion in holiday sales this year, a 3.6 percent increase compared to last year.
Haikus from the valley
Election Day done
Peaceful transition starting