Dog Hill Bistro in Plains closing its doors
October 29, 2020
COVID-19 has brought sickness, death, mental anguish and unemployment throughout the nation. Though Sanders County had less impact than many other places in Montana, it prompted the end of an era in Plains - the closure of the Dog Hill Bistro, a popular community hangout.
Kathy Logan of Plains will shut the doors of her beloved Dog Hill Bistro along Railroad Street in the McGown Mall on Friday after nine-and-a-half years of business.
"COVID-19 has taken its toll on small business, and ours is no exception. The drop in revenue made continuing business unsustainable," said Logan, who opened in June 2011 with a variety of fresh-baked pastries, breads, soup, sandwiches and coffee.
"I will miss Kathy and her regulars. She was always fun to be around and the Bistro crowd added a lot of life and laughter to my day," said Erika Lawyer, owner of Mountain West Clothing, where the Dog Hill Bistro had some 800 square feet of area for its business. "I'm happy she can visit her grandkids without feeling guilty for leaving her baby (Dog Hill) for a few days. It was a fun collaboration of space," said Lawyer. Bruce Swanson, owner of McGowan Grocery and Lawyer's father, purchased Logan's equipment and plans to have another coffee shop-type business in the same space by the end of the year, said Lawyer. She noted she already has a couple of interested parties.
"Todd (Kathy's husband) and I always enjoy coffee shops when we travel and wanted to create that same vibe here," said Logan, who started Dog Hill Bistro with only 500 square feet and with the original bakery in the basement of her Plains home, where she said everyone in the neighborhood had dogs. "A local realtor nicknamed our neighborhood Dog Hill and that's where the name came from," said Logan. Eventually, she rented space in a large room above the shop and moved the bakery operation there, increasing her total business space to 1,000 square feet. Business was good prior to the coronavirus pandemic and Logan at one point had three employees. She said it's difficult to come up with the actual number of customers she usually had, but she noted that business was cut in half because of COVID-19.
In addition, she often held special events throughout the years, such as cooking classes for children and adults, mother's teas, night out dinners and her annual children and adult gingerbread house building contests at Christmastime. She also had a "Kennel Club Coffee Club" where people could have their own coffee cups at the shop.
A lot of businesses were impacted by the pandemic, said Sanders County Commissioner Carol Brooker. Several shut down on a temporary basis, particularly at the start of the pandemic last spring. Even parts of the Sanders County Courthouse had to suspend operations, but Brooker wasn't aware of any other business in the county that closed permanently. "It is sad about the Bistro, I love it when people try something and really take a risk. The Bistro is a great place to just relax and enjoy friends. I will not only miss the place but also Kathy and her incredible staff," said Brooker.
"I will miss the camaraderie of my employees and regular customers," said Logan, who has no initial plans after the closure. "Owning Dog Hill Bistro has been the hardest job I've ever loved," she said. "A big thank you to all of you in this wonderful Plains/Sanders County community. It has been a wild ride and I would not have missed it for the world. I love you."