New owner takes the helm at The Mint

By: 
Dwight Harriman

Changing some things, but leaving the core the same.

That’s the plan for the new owner of The Mint Bar and Grill.

Richard Lowe, 38, took over the Livingston’s iconic bar located at 102 N. Main St. about a month ago. It was closed for 10 days while he rushed to do some cleaning and painting “and basically become acquainted with the place,” he said during an interview earlier this week.

Lowe, who has lived in Montana a couple of different times — including the past five years — worked at one time as a meat cutter and buyer in Northern California, at the same time being a part-time event producer, something he ended up doing full time the past 10 years. But that job put him on the road up to 10 months a year.

“That’s kind of what drove me into trying to find a business” where he could stay put, Lowe said.

Livingston attracted him because he has family and friends here, and because he loves the mountains.

Lowe sees many similarities between running a bar and grill and event production, both of which have surprise problems and last-minute hiccups.

“It’s all production, basically,” he said of his new post, adding, “I’m learning as I go.”

Under the new owner, The Mint has its familiar look — old black and white photographs, along with old guns, saws, wooden skis and fly rods are still on the walls. An antique pulley system still runs the ceiling fans. But he’s planning a few changes, like bringing back live music in a consistent manner. He’s planning live bands once or twice a week.

For sports fans, he has the NFL Sunday Ticket football package.

Some other changes — he’s upped the wattage of the light bulbs just a smidge, while keeping the same Mint feel of the place, and increased the seating capacity.

Regarding the menu, the establishment’s famed food “was probably one of the things that drew me to the Mint to begin with,” he said.

Among those foods are Taco Tuesdays, which he loves and is keeping. But he wants to introduce some seasonal items and some smaller plates, or appetizers. He already has a new stout-braised beef slider. Lowe is also eyeing a lunch menu in the near future. For now, the kitchen opens at 4 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m.

However, on Sundays, he has food from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Mint will continue making everything in house, something it has always been known for, Lowe said.

The place also has a banquet room, which Lowe said he’ll have open after Thanksgiving for special events.

And he plans to continue Trivia Night, held at 7 p.m. every Thursday. Hours at the establishment, which is open seven days a week, are now noon to close, except for the 11 a.m. Sunday opening. The Mint can be reached at 222-4759.

“It’s been a joy so far,” Lowe said of his new post. “(I’ve) met a lot of people and everybody’s been very friendly.”

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Dwight Harriman may be reached at dharriman@livent.net.

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