Ignite 2020: Boutique hotel, virtual reality arcade, axe throwing, beer, burgers and more coming to Great Falls; Children’s Museum has selected new site

The Electric is covering Ignite 2020, hosted by the Great Falls Development Authority, this morning and will post updates here throughout the event.

The Gibson

The Gibson is a new boutique hotel coming to the current Greystone Inn at 621 Central Ave.

Ty Rollins of Choice Hotels said that he’d been in search of the perfect downtown hotel that his company could transform into a boutique hotel in Great Falls.

He first came to Great Falls about a year ago and didn’t know much about the city.

He said that instead of the usual roadblocks when you say you’re going to remodel a hotel, everyone in Great Falls was “truly kind.”

“This city is the whole package,” Rollins said.

Choice Hotels is headquartered in Maryland and is one of the largest lodging franchisers in the world, according to its website. The company currently franchises more than 7,000 hotels, representing nearly 570,000 rooms, in more than 40 countries and territories.

It will be the first of the company’s Ascend collection hotels.

Rollins said the challenge is turning the dreary and tired split faced block into a modern and inviting boutique hotel.

Some architectural renderings are available here.

The goal with The Gibson is to keep with the forward thinking and vision of the hotel’s namesake and city’s founder.

The remodel and rebranding will have a dramatic affect on how the building is used and benefit the downtown, Rollins said.

The upscale hotel will feature local foods and they’re looking for a local coffeeshop and bakery to supply items for the baskets that will be delivered to guest’s rooms each morning.

Rollins said the hotels principal staff are moving to Great Falls for the project.

They’re planning to open in late 2020.

MT Pints

Nate and Renee Weisenburger have leased the building that currently houses The Front and Big Mouth BBQ and will be turning it into MT Pints featuring local beers and burgers.

The building is still owned by Brad Talcott and Linda Caricaburu.

They’re planning to open Tuesday.

They’ll be working with Jeremiah Johnson Brewing to use the brewing equipment in the building that has been largely unused for years. Johnson said he leases the space from Talcott but owns the equipment and will be using it again to develop limited release, seasonal styles and experimental brews.
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Nate Weisenburger said they’re planning to release an experimental beer next week.

The project has been in the works for about 18 months and is “a dream, a concept that’s coming true for us,” Nate Weisenburger said.

Big Mouth BBQ is moving out to consolidate its locations at the Hi Ho on 10th Avenue South.

The menu at MT Pints will be burgers using local, high quality ingredients. They’ll also eliminate the walk-up ordering and go to table service, Weisenburger said.

The new restaurant will feature up to 14 tap handles with Jeremiah Johnson beers with a strong focus on seasonal and limited release beers.

MT Pints will also have sports betting under the new state law, he said.

They’ll continue hosting Wednesday night trivia, fundraisers and outdoor events.

Big Mouth BBQ

Sean Knox said that about 18 months ago they got to know the Weisenburgers when they bought a house nearby.

The Weisenburgers wanted to get into food and beverage and the Knoxs wanted to start getting out possibly, Knox said.

But the restaurant isn’t going away.

He said they started Big Mouth BBQ in a little food truck 20 years ago and grew into a bigger place and now they’re going into a smaller place, but will still cater, deliver and have a small seating area at the Hi Ho.

They’re moving from their current 4,000 square feet of space into about 400 square feet.

Knox said they’ll have some seating and are adding lighter items to the menu.

The current location in West Bank is closed, but they’ll still cater, he said.

They’re hoping to open in about three weeks, they’ve been busy working in the new space “putting lipstick on a pig, but it’s a sexy little pig,” Knox said.

Chase Your Dreams

A new virtual reality arcade, Chase Your Dreams, is coming to the former Anchor Fitness space at 316 Central Ave.

The idea comes from Chase Morgan, an 8th grader at North Middle School.

He’s a gamer and was blown away when he discovered virtual reality, he said.

Chase said he asked his dad, Shawn Morgan, what it would take to bring something like it to Great Falls.

Shawn Morgan said they did some research and started to visualize what they could do in Great Falls, but since it was Chase’s idea, they wanted him to do the work, so he’s been learning the ins and outs of starting and running a business.

Chase said they have top of the line equipment, powerful computers and popular games, as well as options for those who don’t want to play in virtual reality, including cornhole, pool, darts and more.

Chase said they’ll help the community by giving young adults and the community a place to go and have some fun.

Five on Black

Tom Snyder, the owner and founder of Five on Black, said they’re opening in mid-February in West Bank Landing.

“I cannot even tell you how excited I am to show off the space we have created,” he said.
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The fast casual Brazilian restaurant was first announced at Ignite 2018 and construction was underway last summer.

Snyder said they have equipment being delivered today.

He said that they have menu options for all dietary restrictions and though their menu seems simple, there’s 72.000 possible combinations.
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They’ll also do community nights every week when 50 percent of sales goes to that organization and challenged the community to book up those nights in the coming months.

“We want to be a part of this community and we can’t wait to be here,” he said.

Carved Axe Throwing

Carved Axe Throwing is coming to 1900 4th St. N.E. in the shopping center near the Do Bar that includes Subway.

Owner Josh Tearman said axe throwing began in Canada and developed a huge following with “so many people getting so excited to throw an axe.”

Montana currently has four and the Great Falls would be the fifth.

Tearman said they’re hoping to be open in early February.

The activity involves, “coming down there, taking an axe and throwing it at a wall. It’s pretty simple.”

They’ll have eight lanes and allow players to bring their own alcoholic drinks.

Children’s Museum of Montana

The Children’s Museum of Montana has a buy-sell agreement for Pacific Steel and Recycling warehouse at 1401 3rd St. N.W., a 72,000 square foot building.

The museum is currently in a city owned building behind the Civic Center, a building the city intends to take over when the current five-year lease expires in 2023.
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Pacific Steel has been planning to move out of that building into a new facility in the industrial park near Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Sherrie Neff, the museum’s director, said if the deal goes through it would need a major remodel but the large space meets many of their needs.

Sletten is the construction manager on the $51 million project, Neff told The Electric earlier this week.

She said the museum staff and board have been working on grants and most foundations have told her that they need to raise $1 million locally to demonstrate the seriousness of their commitment.

“That’s a total doable amount,” she said in an interview with The Electric.

Neff said that anyone wanting to make a donation to the capital campaign should designate it as such since the museum still needs donations to cover operating costs in the existing building. They’re still seeking sponsors for their February Chocolate Noir event.

“The new museum will be self-sustaining, so we won’t have to be begging for donations like we are now,” she said.

They’re also planning portable exhibits to travel the state and she’s visiting with the Montana Association of Museums to discuss those options.

Love’s Travel Stop

The restaurant in the new truck stop on Gore Hill will be a Subway.

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Central Avenue Meats

The craft butcher shop that has been in the works for a few years now is planning to open in April.

Drew Hicks, owner of Central Avenue Meats, said construction is expensive and took longer than expected, but they’re getting closer to opening on the 400 block of Central Avenue.
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He said Sletten has been the construction contractor and framed the space, most of the drywall is up and they started working on the facade this week, Hicks said.

They’re partnering with McCafferty Ranch out of Belt for grassfed beef.

The shop will feature a kids area and education about their high quality meats.