ANACONDA — Long a staple of boaters, fishermen and anyone else out to play at Georgetown Lake, the Brown Derby was a place to unwind after a day on the water.
Business partners Randy Hornbacher and Karen Grinnell believe they can recapture that tradition, more than a year after the bar and restaurant last closed its doors.
The Brown Derby is open again, already welcoming back the crowd of regulars who have made it a community staple since 1927.
Hornbacher and Grinnell closed on the building Dec. 12, and had the bar ready for New Year’s Eve. They are still working to finish the dining room and kitchen, optimistically by the end of the month.
The attached motel — with its seven double rooms — is also coming soon, though there is not yet a timetable for its completion.
Cars lined up outside the front entrance even before they opened with people excited to see the “For Sale” signs taken down, Hornbacher said, and their first night had standing room only.
“A lot of locals always stop at the Derby,” he said. “It has a well-known name, and we will do our best to fill those shoes.”
Before pursuing their own lounge, Hornbacher and Grinnell worked eight years together at the Butte War Bonnet Hotel: Hornbacher the food and beverage manager, and Grinnell a bartender.
When the hotel changed hands last year, Grinnell decided she wanted to move on and do something for herself. Hornbacher felt the same, and joined the search for their own business.
“We know each other well. We know the other’s personality, and we’ve always been able to come to a compromise,” Hornbacher said.
Grinnell looked at several locations in Butte, but said they did not feel right. The Brown Derby, on the other hand, had what she was looking for.
“It’s the perfect location, and the whole community is just so excited to have it back open,” Grinnell said. “Just the history in here is great. You mention it to anybody, and they all know where the Brown Derby is.”
Inside, the Brown Derby maintains a traditional log cabin-like look and feel, complete with fireplace in the bar. They plan to remove a smaller bar from the back room to make space for pool, darts and possibly shuffleboard.
Hornbacher said they will specialize not only in Montana microbrew beers, but locally raised meats and produce on their menu.
People are looking forward to prime rib and steak meals at the Derby again, Grinnell said, and the support from surrounding businesses has been great.
“The community has been behind us,” she said. “I’m very happy to be up here.”