This adventure began in the spring of 2004 when a classically trained Philosopher, Sommelier of Wine and vagabond chef literally stumbled upon the shell of the once famous Winchester Café and the infamous Murray Bar in the Historic Murray Hotel. The Second Street Bistro opened its doors soon after based on the simple philosophy that good food and wine make life more enjoyable. Since then, we have ran and stumbled, we have found employees that have become part of our family and we have worked tirelessly to perfect our craft. Over the years, we have received countless accolades from national and regional media. In 2009, our dear friend Jim Harrison joined Anthony Bourdain and Russell Chatham in The Second Street Bistro for an episode of No Reservations. When the show aired, we were stunned and humbled by how many kind and wonderful things Anthony said about what we were doing. Suddenly we found ourselves nationally recognized and on the foodie radar. Simply by infusing our amazing staff with the philosophy that food and wine make life better and being good people doing good work, we were making an impact bigger than just being a restaurant. We realized that this motto was not just an abstract philosophical ideal but a real-world business model. We could use our passion for great food and booze to make Livingston a better place to live; in fact, this passion could help us actually create the town we wanted to live in.
In 2010, we were able to purchase the old defunct tourist curio shop “Gil’s Got It” next door to The Murray Bar and set about creating a gorgeous, European inspired café centered around a 15,000 pound wood fired oven. After 15 months of buildout in the spring of 2012, we opened Gil’s Goods and started offering our town homemade croissants in the morning and woodfired pizzas at night. Slowly, we put the finishing touches on the café and turned it into a full-service restaurant that opened early in the morning serving local bacon and eggs and stayed open late providing The Murray Bar with the best “bar food” in the state. Before long we were awarded Montana’s Economic Entrepreneur’s of the Year in 2012 and got to have lunch with the Governor. Soon after Gil’s officially burst it seams and flooded into The Murray Bar, which was suffering from years of deferred maintenance from long before she was in our care. For the next year and a half, we focused all our energy onto the old iconic Murray Bar. We ripped out walls and installed the glass garage door. We tore out the old false ceilings and exposed long forgotten soffit windows. We gutted the entire back bar, replaced all the plumbing and installed a state of the art 16 handle draft system. We started infusing our own liquors, barrel aging cocktails and fresh squeezing all our juices. We ripped out the regretfully old carpet and laid down a beautiful roughhewn White American Oak floor and replaced all the lighting. We added cocktail waitresses and before long The Murray Bar was serving more food than booze.
The sheer volume of business became our biggest challenge and soon it became apparent that we had outgrown our floorplan. Since we make everything in house, including grinding our own burgers, making our sausages, soups, sauces, stocks and dressing, we simply needed more room to grow. In 2015, we were able to buy the old parts warehouse from the old Whiting’s Motor Auto dealership. This beautiful old 19th century building had sat with plywood over its front door since the late 1960’s. We demolished the inside of the building and found amazing brickwork and the original tin ceiling. We set about designing a state of the art commercial kitchen that could supply both Gil’s Goods and The Second Street Bistro with rendered stocks, soups, vegetables, butchery and charcuterie. The commercial kitchen was a dream come true for us, but we felt it was irresponsible for us to have a store front on Park Street and not offer a retail component for our community. We thought about what our little town needed and we decided that we needed to create a take-out driven concept, that was super quick, but also healthy and organic. We have been buying poultry from the Hutterite Colony in Martinsdale since the very beginning and we knew that if we could integrate healthy chickens from the Hutterites with a quick service concept for the town we could create another win-win scenario for both Livingston and our local agricultural community. We took the front 200 feet of our new kitchen and built an amazing brick encased woodfired rotisserie as the focal point of our new quick service restaurant called “Cluck”. Cluck will offer our community a healthy, local, organic, grab and go chicken with classic sides. We also offer a wonderful concept called “Cluck Curbside” which allow you to order from your computer or smart phone and have your meals ready for you when you arrive and will be ran out to your car while you wait. We understand how difficult it is to get kids in and out of the car on the way home from work and we want to provide this service to our working moms and dads in our community. Since we also love to eat fried chicken on the river, we installed a pressure fryer to make broasted chicken as well. We are so very excited to bring this new concept to this little town that we all call home and we hope that you enjoy it.