March 03--The former Log Cabin Bakery on Montana Avenue will reopen soon as a Dickey's BBQ Pit, part of a Texas-based company that started smoking and serving ribs in 1941.
Butte native Ray Russell bought the local franchise and has remodeled the Log Cabin space at 2519 Montana Ave.
Kate Morganelli, a spokesperson at headquarters in Dallas, said the family-owned BBQ chain is opening three restaurants soon in Montana, which will be Dickey's 44th state.
"It's a growing area and we're trying to expand into new territories," she said. "All three franchisees are different owners, so Montana is our hot spot now."
Billings Hot Pit barbecue should open first and then Dickey's in Glendive and Missoula, she said.
Even though they won't be open for two weeks or so, a sign on the door shows a cow and a pig saying, "Come on in. Don't be shy."
Dickey's website said its smoked meats and tomato-based sauces are Texas-style family BBQ recipes. The menu offers eight meat dishes, including chicken, and 10 sides, even some southern specialties not seen much in these parts, like fried okra.
Dickey's is the largest barbecue chain in the United States with 285 restaurants and plans to open 100 more this year. This will be the third Billings restaurant specializing in barbecue along with Blue's BBQ in the Heights and Famous Dave's on the West End.
Trying for another Hitt
Running one restaurant at Billings Livestock Commission called Hitt's The Spot and a catering business of the same name wasn't enough work.
So at the beginning of February, Derek Hitt, his wife, Vicki, and their family decided to open a second restaurant serving traditional American food. A daughter, Nikki Dolan, runs Hitt's at 1212 Grand Ave., Suite 12, in the mini-mall near Albertsons.
"It's more of a soup-and-sandwich place," Hitt said. "We serve five different soups a day and homemade sandwiches, desserts or pastries."
Megan Hitt is the baker at the Lockwood restaurant. The family tries to use Montana products as much as possible.
At the BLC restaurant, the value breakfast of two pancakes and two eggs or other variations costs $2.50. With that deep discount, Hitt said sales at his breakfast-and-lunch business are wonderful.
The coffee is free with breakfast and two bits solo.
"I do believe I am the only place in Billings that does that," he said.
We're in the Top 25
Billings made it into Forbes' list of the Top 25 places to retire.
The survey of more than 400 cities ranked some cold-weather cities high, including Fargo, N.D. and Billings. Forbes liked the low cost of living, good state tax climate, abundant doctors, low crime, above-average air quality and median home price of $138,000 in Montana's largest city.
Good biking and walking trails and a commitment to community volunteer projects helped.
By the numbers
30.4: The percentage of 46 million adults receiving cash or in-kind government assistance in 2011 who are disabled, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Scams du jour
NorthWestern Energy is warning customers not to give out any personal information to anyone who calls claiming to be a utility employee. In a national scam that is hitting Montana, con artists claim you have an overdue bill and to avoid immediate power shutoff, you must provide a credit card or debit card number. "Spoofing" software allows the scammers to put the utility's name and phone number on caller ID, so it looks real.
And, would-be scammers are targeting the Red Robin restaurant at West Park Promenade.
Manage Kari Zeier said they have been receiving emails from someone wanting to place a large to-go order for about 150 meals averaging at least $10 each.
Zeier googled on the sales pitch and found out this appeared to be a scam.
Copious emails asked Red Robin's managers to wire money to a courier company the caller wouldn't name that would pick up the food. The managers refused.
They are getting more forceful now, Zeier said, with comments like, "Here's the credit card number. You can charge it. Just wire the money."
The credit card charge would undoubtedly bounce and Red Robin would lose any money that was wired.
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me in a kickboxing contest.