The Local American Saloon

Angie Ripple

Craig Seguin may not be a cowboy on horseback, but he often performs a multitude of ranch, I mean restaurant-related tasks as the owner and head chef at Belgrade’s Local American Saloon. Craig is skilled at using the tools of the trade to create delicious steaks and burgers; he is an indispensable laborer in the Belgrade Food Scene. 2020 has forced extensive creativity and pivots in the industry to stay afloat, and Craig shares his concept and passion for community in this month’s dining interview.

Angie Ripple: How was The Local conceptualized?

Craig Seguin: It was something I’d been looking at doing for a long time, and Belgrade was a pretty specific market. I guess we kinda looked at places like Ale Works that are super successful and decided that Belgrade needed a Cowboy-style Ale Works.
We’re a family friendly restaurant with a sports bar, so we offer anything from bar apps, chicken wings and nachos, to steaks, sandwiches, burgers. We have a big menu that fits everybody’s price point and fulfills everybody’s needs, so we have a little bit of something for everybody.

AR: What makes The Local unique in the Bozeman/Belgrade Food Scene?

: We are one of the few Cowboy bars around. I don’t know if anyone quite markets the cowboy thing as much as we do, the Western Montana thing. In Belgrade, there were so few options of restaurants we just felt like it was a much-needed thing for the Belgrade area, just to have that casual comfort food and once again, anybody can please their appetite here with our menu because it’s pretty big.

Most of our customers are from Belgrade. We are very well received here, and we do fundraisers with people around here. Of course, there is not as much going on with the high school and grade schools this year, but we support sporting events in Belgrade. It’s nice because compared to Bozeman it is definitely the smaller town, community feel, with all the parades and the Farmers’ Market, it’s just a little more tight knit community, which is good for us. We kind of took center stage getting such a nice spot downtown, on Main Street, that forced us to do some good things and meet the high expectations of the community.

AR: What do you want people to experience when they walk through your doors?

CS: I guess for us, our employees take a lot of pride in what we do, and for the most part we are not trying to be fine dining, we’re not trying to showcase anything, it really is more community involved and I think if you ask any employee here, they’d prefer just to see our local community come in. Obviously, we get a lot of travelers from the airport, but they come in here and are like, ‘oh, cool place, and cool name, and cool menu’, and we sell lots of cool schwag and they like to buy that stuff just for the memories. People have a really good time with it and as far as branding our restaurant, we did the right thing and people seem to really enjoy it.

AR: What do your regulars keep coming back for?

CS: Our number one seller is our burgers; our burgers are pretty awesome. We’ve got a pretty big crowd around here that likes to come out and watch sports, and always our chicken wings and nachos are a thing.

I feel like this restaurant is split in two. We have a bar area that the burgers and nachos and chicken wings - that’s what people come here for, but then there are a lot of people that like to sit in the nice comfy booths in our dining room and have a salmon meal or a nice steak. We’ve got a lot of really cool steaks too. I kinda feel like we fit two different worlds there, kind of a steakhouse and kind of a cool sports bar atmosphere all in one place.

AR: What do you enjoy most about being part of the Bozeman community?

CS: Me personally, in the winter-time I’m a referee for the local Hockey Association, so that’s kinda my exercise program during the winter. I’m also an avid hunter, archery hunter so that’s usually fall-time, and then in the summertime I like to do a lot of mountain biking and hiking. Other than that, I’m always working.

AR: How has it been running the restaurant through the pandemic?

CS: That could be another couple hour discussion; it’s actually been really interesting. In some ways, it’s been a good thing. During the shutdown, we did to-go food only and brought all of our food out of the kitchen and set up like a grocery store inside the dining room. We moved our cash register up to the front door and we were selling groceries and to-go food and chemicals, bleach, toilet paper, and paper towels that we bought through our Sysco company. It was a horrible experience, but it was also pretty fun and we had a pretty good time with it. We were pretty creative with the way that we adapted to things, and then when we opened back up, we needed to learn how to adapt because it’s a really tough business, and I’m assuming a lot of restaurants probably won’t make it through the year which is unfortunate, but you have to be willing to adapt otherwise this will be a really rough time.

AR: Is there anything coming up that you would like the readers to know?

CS: We can’t do large parties over 25 because there are a lot of restrictions there, so once again we are in the process of planning how to figure that out. How can we be creative and still make this work when people get worried about coming out? For one thing, our dining room is pretty big, it’s spread out. People come in and say ‘I love it’, it’s big and spacious, the tables are pushed apart, so people are pretty excited about that. But as far as what we’ll be doing over the next couple of months, we’ve changed the menu quite a bit. As we change it, we are being more price conscious in some areas. Some people will still want to spend money and buy $15 burgers or $30-40 steaks, but we also need to adapt to people’s needs because during pandemics people get a little worried about spending. With our new menus, we try to adapt and come up with some more price conscious things and comfort foods.

Something that is really important for us is our to-go food program. We do Door Dash, but we also have online ordering you can do from your phone and that link is on our Facebook page and our website

You can order from your phone, you basically access our point of sale system so you can modify things, you can add things, you can upsell yourself and decide how much you want to spend, you can pay, you can tip and then all you have to do is walk in the door, grab your order, and leave. People have really been enjoying that, especially those worried about COVID, about no-touch, about swiping their credit card or passing cash, it’s been huge for us to continue to serve our customers who are worried about coming out.

AR: Any parting words?

CS: Get out and support your local restaurants; it’s been tough.

Burn the breeze to The Local in Belgrade, pull up a seat at the huge bar or find a table in the dining seated area, and take in the Cowboy Western theme. Fly at it!

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