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Lilac restaurant chef/owner Jeremy Engebretson has been named the executive chef-in-residence at the Billings Petroleum Club.

And the good news for fans of his fresh, seasonal dishes at Lilac, he will remain at the helm there as well.

How can he juggle two restaurants? Great staff, he said Thursday.

“I have a bunch of people calling me and texting me and asking how this will work. There is an amazing amount of work to be done, but I’ve done this a few times.”

The community buzz over Engebretson, 35, joining the staff at the Petroleum Club has been strong, especially since he just got the position on Tuesday after serving as a consultant. Engebretson has been meeting with staff and board members for a month, including chef Clayton Kukes, who will stay on at the Billings Petroleum Club.

"We are trying to take it to the next level, classic foods that are modernized with my take on them," Engebretson said.

He praised Kukes for the incredible amount of work he has done to get the restaurant open and help develop a new menu.

The Billings Petroleum Club, located on the 22nd floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on North 27th Street and Montana Avenue, has a 60-year history in Billings. It has served as a gathering place for oil barons and cattlemen, and one large window in the restaurant frames the Conoco-Philips refinery, one of three oil refineries in Yellowstone County.

The Billings Petroleum Club just finished a six-month, $513,000 renovation of the lounge and dining space. There are 250 paid members and new signups are still coming in. Restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Bar hours are 11:30 a.m. to close.

Engrebretson said his vision for the restaurant is to create a “steak house that I would want to go to.”

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“It’s going to be different than the Lilac, which is modern Americana, stuff out of the box. This place has linens on the tables and the plates all match.”

Engebretson put 10 protein items on the menu, including mussels and chorizo, pork chops, New York and rib eye steaks, and a rack of lamb. Side dishes, which will be sold separately, will include items like sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.

The restaurant will keep that menu at least for the next few weeks.

“In January, we’re looking to redo the menu again,” Engebretson said.


Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.