FERNDALE — At the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 209 stands an unassuming A-frame building and what has been an empty parking lot since the beginning of the year.
But last week, as of June 26, the parking lot was full of trucks, cars, and the occasional ATV, all from patrons ready to see the latest evolution of the A-frame building: A Bar.
Of course, this building was a bar before, when it was the Rocky Mountain Roadhouse and known for its comforts, prime rib, and a cast of locals who made it their watering hole.
Now, with new owners and a new identity, A Bar wants to continue the tradition of being one of Ferndale’s gems while ushering in a new era of music, events, and other happenings.
“We want to make this one of the best venues, especially with the outside area throughout the summer months, in the Flathead,” Greg Edwards, one of A Bar’s new owners, said.
Edwards has been in the Bigfork business scene for years, and is likely most well known for running the now-closed Brookies Cookies in town. After selling the space Brookies used to occupy, Edwards has been on a journey throughout the valley trying to find the next place to build something new.
“I’ve been searching, searching, searching, forever and a day, high and low, east and west all over this valley, searching for another spot, and I’ve always loved this one,” Edwards said. “It had to have the right feel, which this one definitely had from the start.”
He had made an offer on the A-frame building in 2009, but it wasn’t to be at that point. After that, Edwards continued his search, meanwhile taking on bartending and milling jobs. So when the opportunity came to buy the A-frame and begin A Bar, he and Amber Harper, his partner in life and business, jumped at the chance. They partnered with Geoff and Lynn Landon and got to work on the building in February.
“We knew it was going to be some work; we didn’t anticipate how much work it would be,” Edwards said.
The building, standing and entertaining since 1973, needed significant updates. The new owners replaced the entire roof, increased the size of the skylights, and redid all of the floors in the bathroom, kitchen, back bar, and coolers.
As the deconstruction phase continued, they found more work to do, and ended up replacing all of the electrical and plumbing systems, as well as rebuilding two walls. And that’s just the work on the building itself. Outside, there’s a new entry deck and ramp, and Edwards has plans to move the performance stage and possibly expand the yard.
They want to see how the sun shines into the yard and how the stage could affect the ever-important mountain views before they make any decisions, Edwards said, but the outdoor area is expected to be a major part of A Bar’s offerings.
As part of those offerings, the bar currently offers a simple menu, but Edwards said he and Harper have been meeting with their chef every Sunday to test new menu items. The menu should give the feeling of an “old-school diner with homemade food,” Edwards said.
A Bar opened officially on June 26, and Harper estimated about 1,000 people stopping by to grab a drink and check out the new digs. Outside, the reader board proclaimed the opening with the message, A Bar Is Born. Edwards and Harper said they hope to continue the tradition of being a favorite for locals, while expanding their reach.
“It’s going to be community-based and family friendly,” Edwards said. “Good eggs only: a good attitude is always welcome.”