Businesses, restaurants adjust to virus

Thursday, March 26, 2020

As of last Friday evening, restaurants and bars across Montana were told to close following a directive from Gov. Steve Bullock. It was a blow to employees of those businesses and to their customers, another result of the Covid-19 spread across the country.

Not just restaurants and bars are affected. Big Timber banks and the credit union are confining their transactions with customers to drive-up windows and closing their lobbies for now. The Hospitality House senior center in Big Timber and the Sweet Grass Arts Theater are closed until further notice. Those actions, plus new “social distancing” advice has put a chill on commerce just weeks after the economy was healthy for a string of months before.

Here’s the breakdown of several Big Timber businesses and restaurants:


Citizens Bank and Trust, American Bank, Opportunity Bank and Sky Federal Credit Union all offer drive-up banking while their lobbies are closed. All of them say their ATMs are open and available at any time.

Some of the banks are reporting they will make limited one-on-one appointments with customers to conduct business, if necessary. All of the institutions in town retain their usual hours of business.


Since the state closed all bars and restaurants, most Big Timber eating establishments are offering take-out and/or curbside service. Most are open for that business during their regular hours. The Thirsty Turtle has slightly shortened its hours but offers free home delivery of food. All of the restaurants ask that people call ahead with their orders.

The Big Timber Bakery will open at 7 a.m. instead of the previous 6 a.m. Most of the other restaurants say they are holding off as long as possible to not to lay off employees.

Restaurants contacted include the Bakery, Thirsty Turtle, Timber Bar, the Coffee Stop and Iron Star Pizza.

The Grand Hotel now offers a novel “retail groceries” service with a large menu of meats, dairy products, bread, potatoes, fruits and vegetables that are sold by the pound.

According to hotel owner Chris Dern, the complete menu is online at and people can call or text orders to (406) 321-1684. The Grand also offers free delivery to those in need and will order to special requests, Dern said. In addition, some oven-ready items will be offered for individuals or families.

Beer, wines, liquor by the bottle, soda and tea also are available. For regular menu orders, a $5 delivery charge will be added for orders under $50 but delivery is free for those over the age of 65.

The Grand continues to book hotel rooms.


Cole Drug says it can still fill most prescriptions, but quantities of some drugs may be limited. To prevent a run on certain medications, Cole says some prescriptions may be filled on a one-at-a-time basis. Part of the reason is because certain supplies of medications produced in foreign countries may be in shorter supply.


Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Sunday services at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will be available to view virtually online. Live services have been suspended at those churches.


As of Tuesday, the Sweet Grass County Annex building has been closed to walk-in traffic. The employees remain on the job.