Category Archives: around town

Eye On Great Falls!


Here’s a look at some of the changes happening in Great Falls, including new businesses, construction in progress, and other tidbits.

Let me also note: I appreciate changes like this. Sometimes they are sad – such as when Goodes’s Q & Bayou Grill closed. Sometimes they are good – such as the news of Big Bang Pizza (below). But these changes are always fascinating, and are part of what makes our community vibrant and diverse.

The Prime Cut restaurant closed last week. After more than 37 years of working at and then owning the restaurant, the owner said that it’s time for him to try something new. Best wishes to him!

Construction has begun on the new City Brew facility on the corner of 3rd Street NW and Smelter Avenue, on the lot that once housed Burger Master. I’m pretty excited about this — I am super-super-super-loyal to Starbucks, but I am looking forward to trying a new place. More choices = good.

Big Bang Pizza opened for business this week in the Columbus Center building. I’ve already had it twice – and was VERY impressed both times! Some more info here.

The New Peking Restaurant on 3rd Street NW is closed – but only for remodeling. No word yet on how long it will be closed for renovations.

Dimitri’s Restaurant on 3rd Street NW closed several weeks ago. The Greek-themed eatery posted note on the door says the restaurant lost its lease and they are being forced out. Very sad – it was a pretty neat restaurant, run by two wonderful people – I hope they bring it back in another location. Here’s a brief review from when it first opened.

A new egg-processing facility is being built along 38th Street North near 10th Avenue. Click here for more information.

Construction continues along 10th Avenue South between 14th Street and 15th Street for a new Town Pump convenience store and casino. The site was formerly home to the Townhouse Inn hotel. Click here to read more.

Hobby Lobby apparently plans to open a store in Great Falls. I’ve heard rumors that it will be located inside the former Sears store in Holiday Village Mall. I’m not a “hobbyist,” so it’s not a big deal for me – but this news sure did make a lot of people happy (and some people not happy, due to political differences), based on Facebook reactions. Click here for more information.

Construction on the new Walmart and East-End Retail Center along 10th Avenue South near 57th Street is going strong. Click here for details.

And as some of you have surely heard, there are rumors that Ulta and Harbor Freight will be coming to Great Falls — but as far as I know, they are only rumors at this point.

Prime Location

Heck of a location!

Heck of a location!

What should be built on the space currently occupied by this decrepit building? Wait, don’t tell me: a mattress store! Or a bank! Or a casino!


Actually, “what should be built there?” is not the right question.

The question is actually: Will the City of Great Falls force the owner to do something about it?

City officials will discuss this week a resolution which states that “…if the owner fails to abate said nuisance as ordered and within the time allowed, the City Staff is directed to take any and all steps necessary to abate the nuisance with all expenses to attach as a lien against the property.”

I agree that the building is pretty much an eyesore – and it has also sparked the imagination of many, many people over the years.

The location – right along the west bank of the Missouri River by the Central Avenue bridge – seems ideal for many ventures — a riverside restaurant, for instance, or perhaps an events center.

And when this news article was posted on KRTV, people weighed in with their answers to the first (but incorrect) question.

Among the suggestions:

Holly Gordon: Turn it into something so that the high schoolers and young adults have some else to do in this town.

Mamie Ann Webster Carter: This would make a beautiful restuarant, overlooking the river, patio for outside dining. Great Falls needs good restaurants with good service.

Desiree Boothe: I would love love love to see it be turned into a reception hall for weddings! I think it could be turned into a beautiful place! Especially since Great Falls has NOTHING like that in town.

Nikki Pearson: I wish there was a way to save this building.. It would make a great spaghetti factory! It’s a neat looking place but needs something done with it.

Zaeda Denae June: My mom always wanted to do kayak and bike rentals, a small arcade, smoothie/coffee bar and like an info center & little family fun area there. A little of everything for everyone.

Corey Hughes: I wish we had a comedy club here, its a nice spot though kinda limited parking if you planned something there. Curious what of will become.

Patty Kelly Morris: I thought maybe an ice/skating rink or a very nice steak house or sushi place

So there’s a sampling of what people think.

As for me: well, sure, it would be cool to have that spot used for something…cool.

But unless someone is willing to give me several million dollars to turn it into the coolest Starbucks / skating rink / art gallery /events center, the decision is up to Ken Holman, the owner of the property.

Fire Evacs

Smoke from the fire, as seen from 2nd Street NE and 36th Avenue.

Smoke from the fire, as seen from 2nd Street NE and 36th Avenue.

Tuesday’s fire hit close to home – literally. For the first time that I can remember, there were some evacuations ordered in Great Falls.

People living on the extreme north side of Skyline neighborhood – along with residents of Countryside Village just a little to the east – were ordered to evacuate at about 6 p.m. last night, as the fire and smoke from a field fire got closer.

The fire, believed to have been sparked by farm equipment, started before noon several miles north of there, along Vinyard Road.

My house is only about six blocks away from the evacuated area, and while I was at work, my wife was watching scores of people driving past our house TOWARD the fire, despite warnings from GFPD, GFFR, and others to *not* go near the area.

The evacuation order was called off a few hours later, and thankfully the fire did not actually reach any of the houses.

And you know those “Safety Check-In” things that Facebook (and Google) sometimes activate after natural disasters or terrorist attacks? Apparently, Facebook automatically created one for “The Wildfire in Great Falls, Montana,” based (as far as I can tell) on the surge of people in the area using trigger words such as “fire” and “evacution.”


Here’s the article with more details + video of the fire.

Photos of the fire from KRTV friends:

14 Years!

Today marks 14 years since I arrived in Great Falls. I truly can not put into words how happy it makes me. A few months ago, at about 13 years + 8 month, this officially became the place where I have lived longer than anywhere else in my life (although that previous record was set during two periods in one hellish location).

As a military brat who then spent 20 years on active duty, “home” was never a tangible, concrete thing for me – I had a vague understanding of what it meant, and knew that other people had a “home,” but until I arrived in Great Falls, the true nature and feeling of “home” was something I honestly never thought I would feel.

If you know me, or have been checking out my blog over the years, you know how much I love Great Falls, and how I fell in love with this community literally within days of arriving.

I believe the first meal I had in Great Falls was at the Apple Mill Grill (in the mall parking lot); it became Fiesta En Jalisco a few years later. The next evening, I had Howard’s Pizza – ’nuff said.

Thank you so much, Great Falls and Montana, for being the only place that I have ever lived that truly feels like – and is – home.

Here is one of the very first photos I took after arriving in Great Falls (on a then-fancy 640x360px camera phone!).


One Stop Video

One Stop Video in Great Falls

One Stop Video — just a few blocks away from where I live — is going to close in a few weeks.

I had never been in there until last week, but occasionally when driving by over the last few years, my wife would mention that she wanted to stop in and rent a movie, primarily for nostalgic reasons.

And that’s what a video store is in the year 2016, pretty much, for a lot of people. Roku, Netflix, Hulu Youtube and other online/streaming services make it so easy to watch a movie without ever even getting up from your couch,

And if you actually want a physical DVD, there’s a Redbox vending machine in front of or inside several grocery stores in town.

The last time I went into a video store to actually rent a movie was (IIRC) 2003, when there were not one, not two, but THREE video stores clustered near each other in Great Falls: Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video, and Hastings. If memory serves, it was an X-Men movie, and to be honest, I’m not even sure I ever returned it. If I didn’t – sorry Blockbuster!

All within a few hundred feet of each other near the intersection of 10th Avenue South and 9th Street. You know – the area now known as the “Mattress District:-) .

The Blockbuster spot turned into Salad Creations, and is now zPizza. Hollywood Video is now Cafe Rio. Hastings moved to a new location just down the road.

The good news is that Paul Dockter – the very nice man who owns One Stop Video – told me that it isn’t economics and competition from streaming services driving his decision: he simply is ready to retire and relax a bit, after 28 years of running the business.

He was really grateful for all of his customers over the years – he said that many of them became friends, and he really enjoyed getting to know so many wonderful people.

A lot of people left fond memories of the store on the KRTV Facebook post about it.

If you want to add to your video collection, head on down there soon – he’s selling it all!

He owns the building, and has already lined up a new tenant for the spot. I’m not at liberty (yet) to say what the new business is, but just in case you’re wondering: no, it won’t be a casino.

Here’s my write-up at

One Stop Video in Great Falls

One Stop Video in Great Falls

1 2 3 99