Red Chair Café and Bar
Whether you are looking for some coffee, breakfast, lunch, a sweet treat, a happy hour cocktail or dinner, you can find it at Red Chair Café and Bar. Located on the west end of Bozeman, Red Chair offer’s fresh, locally sourced Americana dishes along with unique cocktails, thoughtfully selected wines, and a large selection of craft beer. The restaurant offers wide-open views of mountains on all sides, and the décor goes along with Bozeman’s favorite winter recreational activities: skiing and snowboarding. Featured are a couple of genuine Bridger Bowl lift chairs and other ski and mountain themed accents.
The owners of Copper Whiskey Bar and Grill, Jon Slye and Jay Thane, opened Red Chair Café and Bar in 2015. It is apparent that their flair for food and drinks has transferred to yet another restaurant. I was lucky enough to visit with, and pester, Jon with some questions. Here is what he had to say:
Jessica Lewis: How was Red Chair Café and Bar conceptualized? How did this place come about?
Jon Slye: Red Chair was conceptualized by me and my partners driving by here and seeing an empty building. We had opened Copper about three years previous to getting this and realized that there was a need on this side of town. Once we came up and saw the building, it was just a gorgeous and really fun building that stared at the beautiful Bridgers. So with that we took the concept of why so many people live in Bozeman and the great outdoors, fishing, skiing, biking, and we enjoyed all of that stuff, so we encompassed all of that. That led us to the red chairs which was Bridger and all that goes on around here. We came up with that concept and then from there we decided this side of town needed a one-stop shop. We opened the coffee shop, with lunch and the whole nine yards.
JL: Tell me a little about yourself. What made you want to get into the restaurant business?
JS: I wanted to be a chef when I was about 13 or 14 years old; that was my life goal. I bounced around and grew up in Seattle, and I shadowed a chef at a really neat hotel downtown when I was 15, and that sparked it for me. I went down and checked out the CIA in Napa to look at it and that kind of fed the bug. I moved to Montana and started working in restaurants, as a dishwasher for a couple years and worked my way up and cooked for about seven years. I then realized that bartending was a great spot to be and bartended for awhile. Then I met my business partner Jake and ran the Bacchus Pub for a short two years and then came up with the Copper concept and thought “this is it” and got that going and kept moving. My heart and soul is in the kitchen. I obviously run the business, but I love food you know, food that is done well. In this day and age, a lot of people are foodies and are super involved in where the food comes from and how you prepare it, which is fun.
JL: What do you enjoy the most about being part of the Bozeman area?
JS: For me, it’s the outdoors. It’s why we put this concept together, I’ve been fly fishing since I moved here. I love skiing and love all the things that Bozeman has to offer. There’s some neat stuff to do around here, and I think that’s why we all live here. It’s been this hidden spot for some time but it’s starting be on the map now. It was hidden because of all of those reasons. I just really love the outdoors.
JL: Your chairs are from Bridger and the Virginia City lift, right?
JS: Yep! We’ve got one from both and then the two out front were custom made because we wanted to bolt them into the ground and into the ceiling. So we had a metal working friend make those and then the other two here are from Bridger. We were about six months away from opening the concept and were having a hard time finding chairs, because they are super hard to find, and they were both given to us by friends, which was super awesome.
JL: To go along with the theme, what is your favorite winter recreational activity?
JS: I’d have to say skiing. I tried snowboarding once and it didn’t quite work out for me. I’ve been skiing since I was a little kid in Seattle where it’s slushy and I came here for the cold smoke; it’s awesome. I love snowshoeing and going up to Hyalite. I just like the winter.
JL: What makes Red Chair unique in the Bozeman region? What do you offer that other places don’t?
JS: The big part of what we offer here is that local feel. My business partners and I are all locals of Bozeman and have been here for awhile, and we try and push as much local food on the menu as we can. We offer so much. You can come over here in the morning for some coffee and a breakfast burrito, and then come back at lunch and get a burger, and come back at dinner and get a pork chop. There’s not a lot of restaurants in town that have a bake shop all the way to a full bar. I opened it and realized really quickly just how many hours we were going to be open, which is crazy, but it’s super fun too. I think that’s the uniqueness of this, is that we do so much and you can’t get that unless you travel around. That sets us apart.
JL: What do you want people to experience here when they step through your doors?
JS: Comfort. That’s a big one that we push and we want people to feel comfortable when they’re here. It’s a space that you can just sit down and order a beer or a coffee and just stare out the windows and see what Bozeman has to offer. And then good food. We take pride in everything on our menu. We put a lot of care in our food. We want someone to sit down to enjoy their experience but also the food. And the views, the view is so awesome here.
JL: What’s your most popular dish here right now?
JS: Overall, with breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would say that our burgers are our biggest sellers. Our french dip we do a little bit different; instead of the sliced roast beef, we do a pot roast style which is super popular.
JL: Are there any upcoming events or specials you want people to know about?
JS: Besides the holidays and daily specials, we’re going to start doing a full breakfast Monday through Friday starting after Black Friday. We’re going to have some fun things.
Red Chair Café and Bar currently has some great daily specials going on, including a weekend brunch until 2 p.m., which includes mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, a burger and beer deal for $12, a chili night, cook’s corner (which is where a chef in the kitchen has a featured special), rosé all day and a very exciting special, for you ski bums, called “Ride the Chair” which is a ski pass giveaway. Now, I will clarify that it is a day pass, not a season pass, to Bridger Bowl and that takes place on Tuesdays! Weekday breakfast starts at 7 a.m. at the drive thru; at 8 a.m. the building opens up. Happy hour is 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and there is no dinner service on Sunday Evenings. Head on over to Red Chair for some friendly service, great food any time of the day, and for a breathtaking view of what a lot of us are lucky enough to call home.