The Break Room

Sierra Holmes

As I walked into The Break Room for the first time, I immediately noticed the colorful murals painted along the walls, and the warm, inviting atmosphere inside. Seth Colombo and his wife, Cassie Colombo, opened The Break Room last year as a community-oriented lounge where all ages could feel welcome to come and enjoy one of their old-fashioned sodas, a beer, and even some arcade games. Cassie and Seth own and operate not only The Break Room, but also the arcade, and Colombo’s Pizza, all of which sit next door to each other. Because of this, the couple has connected all three, creating a space where customers can enjoy a variety of activities, food, and drinks all in one place.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Seth and his general manager, Kyle Suta, to learn about their passion for great drinks, food, and bringing all members of the Bozeman community together.

Sierra Holmes: How was The Break Room conceptualized?

Seth Cooper: The concept is that we wanted to have something for the student population and the neighborhood, a place where they could feel at home and hang out. We wanted to create a local hangout. This is a hard-working family, a mom and pop shop; we wanted to give something back to the community. We wanted to create a space that could be used for the community, where you feel like you’re in your living room.

Kyle Suta: Yeah, it’s definitely more of a casual bar atmosphere, not like, you know, the traditional college bar.

SC: The kinda place where you can study during the day, and have a quiet conversation at night. An alternative to the busy college bar scene, and just a quieter alternative to mainstream options.

KS: Back when I was still doing computer work, this is the kind of place I would want to come to. I want this to be the kind of place where I’d want to come and hang out for a couple hours, get out of the house. You know, if you’re working from home, or the office or whatever, if you need a change of pace. It’s a nice spot that’s easy to approach.

SC: We wanted it to be a place [where] we wanted to hang out.

SH: What would you like people to experience when they walk through your doors?

KS: A welcoming, friendly atmosphere. We want you to immediately feel at ease when you come in. We’ve got friendly murals on the walls, we’ve got books, a nice, cozy little area to read, overstuffed chairs. And I just want people to feel relaxed and comfortable—the opposite of a stressful environment. I came up with The Break Room name as a concept; it’s a place where you can hang out and study, you can read, you can play board games, you can chat with your friends, or just have a drink. And a game room fits into that sort of relaxed environment. You know, take a break from working here to go play. A very low pressure, casual environment.

SC: Yeah, we want people to feel like they’re in their living room.

SH: I’m also wondering who painted the murals that are all over the walls?

KS: A friend of Seth’s named Daniel Rojas painted all of them. He’s living in Florida now, but we flew him out for a whole month. And he basically lived here for four weeks, and just did all the murals.

SH: What menu items do regulars keep coming back for?

KS: We have a couple of focuses. Obviously, the draft beer is really popular, as are a lot of local Montana craft beers, and then a list of awesome cans that I think are some of the top beers in the world. So, it’s a very curated experience from there. We also have the old-fashioned soda fountain arm right up front on the bar. So we make homemade root beer, ginger ale, a kind of citrus soda, and others. We hand mix sodas to order, so you can get a cherry coke; you can get our citrus soda, you can get a beer shandy with soda or lemonade in it. It’s just seltzer water that comes out of the soda fountain; we have syrups and flavors and garnishes, and can give you a lot of options for building drinks if you’re not a beer drinker. It’s kind of an old school feeling that you don’t really get anywhere, that type of fountain experience.

SH: What sets The Break Room apart in the Bozeman food scene?

KS: We offer a small snack menu for folks to have something to munch on with their beer, wine, or soda. Also, being connected with Colombo’s allows guests to order pizza right next door and have it delivered directly to them in The Break Room!

SH: What snack menu items do customers keep coming back for?

KS: The favorites are definitely the jumbo Bavarian pretzel, with beer cheese and spicy mustard, and our oven-baked, loaded chorizo nachos, featuring our fresh, house made pico de gallo!

SH: You also have a rotating tap here, right?

KS: Yeah, there’s just so much good beer in the state, and in the city. It’s a balance of keeping the things people want to come back for every day, but also rotating some other things so we can showcase beers that people like.

SH: What would you say makes The Break Room unique?

KS: I think what makes it unique is we offer a variety of experiences that still match a comfortable, relaxed environment. We want to be somewhere where you can come during the day and study, or come in the evening and have fun. Like I said, the books, a whole game room you don’t see very often. the arcade… you don’t see arcades a lot, the arcade is called Joe’s Fun Zone, after Cassie’s late father, Joe Colombo who started the pizzeria after buying and running Carl Mark’s Pizza for a few years.

SC: And we’re always open to more ideas. It’s a community place, so if you have an event idea that you want us to do, just come talk to us and we can figure it out. Right now, Monday night is our open mic comedy night at 7pm. If people want to come and just watch, or if they want to participate, or both, they’re more than welcome to. Thursday nights, we have trivia at six. We are a little different in terms of our trivia. We do two hours back to back. So if somebody only wants to come for one, they can stay for an hour, potentially win a prize and go home, and they need to get better. And we actually have a local woman who I went to high school with here custom-make all our trivia questions. So it’s not one of the national cookie cutter  services that send the same questions to everyone in the US. It’s bespoke, Break Room trivia, different every week. There’s local trivia, there’s general knowledge, there are music rounds, picture rounds… it’s a lot of fun.

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

KS: When I’m a customer, I like feeling like a regular. You can walk in and you know who’s working. You know who’s the boss, who’s the manager, and you can chat with them. And I love just being able to interact with the community on a direct level. Especially growing up here. I’m from Bozeman, and you see people you haven’t seen in years, and then you see people who just started their junior year in college. I’ve never met them before, but they have become regulars. It’s a great direct access to interacting with folks in the community on a very real level, where you’re just having a beer with somebody. It’s a nice way to connect with other people.

SC: Well, as for Colombo’s, I can say some of the same customers have been coming here for the last 40 years including their kids, multiple generations. And being able to see all these multiple generations of neighbors over the years is very rewarding.

SH: I was also wondering, what are your guys’ two personal favorite drinks here?
SC: I would have to say Guinness for sure, but my favorite soda is the homemade root beer, which is made from a mixture of birch, tarragon and clove.

KS: I’m gonna cop out a little bit; honestly, the rotating taps are my favorite because I found some really great beers from newer breweries and you know, stuff around the state where maybe the brewer comes in, or their rep comes in and talks to you face to face for a while and trade stories. And you talk about beer. That’s my favorite part.

SH: Lastly, is there anything else you guys would like readers to know about?

SC: Just that we have open mic nights and trivia on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week, and that we love getting new event ideas from the community. So if you have an idea, you should come on by and we can try to make it happen.

The Break Room is a place where anyone, no matter their age, can feel welcome to come and enjoy a comfortable space where they can hang out with friends, play some games, browse books, do homework, or just relax with a great drink. The unique atmosphere of The Break Room has been the owners’ goal since opening, and they are constantly at work to keep bringing more people in the Bozeman community together over a drink. So if you find yourself asking, “where should we go out tonight?,” The Break Room is the answer.  

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