General Real Estate

Enzo’s Bistro – Billings Iconic Restaurant Gets New Owner…

Nicole King, owner, and broker of 41 Realty Group, visits Enzo’s Bistro, one of Billings, Montana’s most popular and iconic restaurants. She interviews Tyler Samson, Enzo’s new owner, to find out what he’s keeping the same, what he’s changing, and what his vision is for this beloved establishment. 

An Interview With Enzo’s Bistro New Owner Tyler Samson

Read on for a transcription of the interview with Nicole King and Typer Samson. 

Nicole: Tyler, congratulations, first, on purchasing this property.

Tyler: Thanks. 

Nicole: This is an iconic restaurant in the Billings area, and you’ve made some changes but you’re keeping things the same also. Tell us about us and then also give us a little backstory on how you got here.

Tyler: Ok, well, to make a long story short for how we arrived here in the short term anyways – I owned a bar outside of town. I live in Billings so I was commuting about an hour and a half round trip every day, and I’m also a commercial real estate broker by day for NAI business properties. So I wanted to do something different to shorten my commute at night so that I could make both things work really easily. 

And I had a conversation with James, the previous owner, I’ve know him for about 12 years now, we are good friends. And we had coffee about a year and a half ago and we had kind of started the conversation about me taking this over, and all the ideas starting coming about. And I got really excited and also kind of nervous, especially when COVID hit and we closed actually, at the very end of June on this. So there wasn’t really any game plan written for this, to deal with this, you know, so we’ve had to definitely make some adjustments. But, to be honest with our strong takeout presence and we are at about, about 65% capacity with the layout of the restaurant, keeping that six-foot distance rule. But you know with the takeout and that and I think just since we did a kind of a nice elegant remodel, and made some really nice changes, not only cosmetically but also to the menu, there’s been a lot of demand and a lot of people wanting to come check out the new changes, as well as, you know, the regulars who’ve been dining here for the last 22 years. So I think there’s a lot of excitement, you know, I’m very blessed because we’re actually doing about the same numbers as they were last year, even pre-COVID even with the reduced capacity. On a majority of the nights, we’re even surpassing sales, you know, from a year ago, which I’m very blessed, and yeah, we’re very fortunate for that.

Nicole: Absolutely. So you’ve been a chef in the Billings area for a long time?

Tyler: Not a chef actually. So I went to MSUB here when I was 21. I got into the restaurant industry working in, I started in a casino, just slinging beers and running that and then graduated into a few restaurants. My longest stent was with Walkers for eight years, I worked there through college, and then after college. About eight years ago I became a commercial sales agent with NAI business properties and I had a huge passion for both industries and I was trying to see how to make it work. I’ve actually kind of become one of the premier brokers for restaurants across Montana, so that’s kind of the niche I focus on.

Before this I had the Edgar Bar, and I had actually had that listed for the previous owners, and that’s how we kind of stumbled across it. I bought it with a partner and it was a very successful business, you know, I had that for almost four years before I did this. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for about 15 years, so I have a huge passion. But again, for me it’s also about being able to help other restaurants and casinos and bars, and you know, sell their businesses or have people buy them, so, you know, I handle both sides of the acquisition. It’s really fun.

Nicole: But you probably have great advice on how to be successful, also. 

Tyler: Yeah, it’s been great. I’ve definitely done some consulting with a lot of restaurants I’ve sold, you know, I’ve represented both buyers and sellers, you know, all across Montana for the last eight years. It’s just really exciting and I love being able to, you know, give my personal input and give advice, and, you know, being a commercial agent that owns, has owned a couple restaurants now, and successful ones, and kind of more iconic ones – it definitely helps my real estate career as well. Being able to get new listings where you know people are now coming to me, you know, to list or to help them buy, you know, liquor licenses, or beer and wine licenses, or full establishments too.

Nicole: Absolutely, so what is the top-selling dish here?

Tyler: Right now, anyways, is our Alaskan halibut. Until the end of October, we’re able to get it fresh, so we actually get it second-day air to us. It comes with a certificate on the box, we get it in whole, so we bone it and skin it in-house. Our chefs filet it out and they weigh them out, so you know it’s never been frozen, it’s easily our top seller.

Nicole: It sounds delicious. 

Tyler: It’s really good.

Nicole: What is the time that has carried through from all the previous owners to now that people come back again and again and again?

Tyler: There’s definitely some staples. So when we looked at the menu, my kitchen is led by Alex Bean and Jason Marble, the three of us got together even before I had purchased this before the sale went final and just looked at the menu. We just looked at the menu and, you know, we didn’t want to change anything too drastic. So I would say it’s probably 20% new but 80% we kept the staples, like the veal piccata, the shrimp tempura pasta. Paul loves the vanilla bean creme brulee, he’s been in for that. My favorite is the portobello and mozzarella pasta with fresh pasta with a basil pesto. Everything’s served over a bit of marinara with mozzarella and then we do a grilled portobello cap. So we actually skewer the pasta and then garnish it with two grilled artichokes on top of the skewer, and then we also add some mixed greens in the mix of that and toss in a little bit of balsamic too. So there’s so many different flavor profiles going on, and it is a vegetarian dish but you can add chicken, beef, sausage, or shrimp to it too, so it’s been very popular. 

Nicole: That sounds delicious.

Tyler: So we kind of cater to every palette, you know, we have a lot of gluten-free options, some vegan options, a lot of vegetarian options. We’re doing a lot of steaks right now too, the last couple of weeks we’ve been running a hand-cut 15-ounce ribeye, and we do a homemade Atlantic crab bearnaise sauce over the top, so it’s kind of a nice surf-and-turf with a beautiful presentation. But we’ve been selling out of that almost every single night we feature it so it’s been awesome. 

Nicole: What type of remodeling have you done since you’ve been in here?

Tyler: Yeah, mostly cosmetic for now. We did all new carpet, upstairs and down, we painted the entire interior. Matt The Painter and his team did that, they are going to be doing the exterior here in the next week or two. We added this bar top in so there’s actually seating at the bar with new lighting. We put new lighting upstairs and then I was fortunate enough to get Kira Fercho to display her art here on the walls too, and that’s been amazing. Very stunning. Then I hired Ann Jackson to help with the interior design as well, just for some extra guidance.

Nicole: Ann did a great job. 

Tyler: Yeah, thank you. We wanted to keep it very elegant, keep it classic. We didn’t want modern at all, but yeah we just kind of brightened things up and it just needed kind of a facelift after 22 years, so it was a really fun process actually.

Nicole: So what’s the best way for people to get a hold of you do either order takeout, or to just come in?

Tyler: We’re kind of old-fashioned still, we like the phone call for the reservations, we still hand-write everything in on the reservation book. We don’t have a digital system just because it’s never failed in 22 years so why change it now? We do takeout orders over the phone as well, so usually, we allow a 30-45 minute time slot so that usually when that person walks in to get their to-go food, it literally was just boxed within 30 seconds. Or we’ll see them walk in and then fire and put everything together, so, you know, most of the people with the residential community that we’re surrounded by, you know, they’re home within just a few minutes so they’re still getting the food fresh.

We’re not doing any delivery options. Grubhub does have a small presence here, we don’t advertise with them just because of the quality of the food that we’re serving, we want to, you know, if we give it to a third-party courier that takes it out, we really have no control of how it’s handled and taken care of when it leaves here so we want it to be as fresh and hot as possible for the guests. 

Nicole: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that experience, where I order something, and 45 minutes later it’s at my door and it’s…not great anymore.

Tyler: Right, yeah. We take a lot of pride in what we do and you know, being this close to so many houses, a lot of people are coming from downtown or the heights, they get the food on the way home and they can go have dinner with their families. Or, you know, especially now with the bar and we added a beautiful chef’s table right in front of the kitchen. A lot of people can, you know, have a drink while they wait for their food as well, so it’s been really nice. With the limited seating, to add the bar seating and the chef’s table, you know, to add the extra seating has definitely helped us out. We had to get kind of creative, you know, just to get people in seats.

And then this spring we’re going to do a really nice, kind of a glamorous patio too. So it’ll be really fun, we’re excited about that. I was going to do it in July, but with all the COVID spiking across the nation, I was a little worried about doing that, putting the money and the work into that and then getting shut down, you know, and not being able to utilize it so we’ll do that for sure this spring.

And then, I can’t announce it right now, but we have a huge exciting announcement at the end of October and we’re going to have a big, kind fo a grand event as well that we’ll start advertising for.

Nicole: I want to get invited to that.

Tyler: Definitely, you’re on the list.

Nicole: Everybody heard, I get to be invited to the grand event. Is there anything else that you would like people to know?

Tyler: That’s about it, you know, it was very important for me to keep Enzo going and keep it in the community. Like you said, it’s an iconic restaurant and I wanted to be able to, you know, basically, enhance what was already here, keep it in the community. I didn’t want anybody else with a new concept coming in here or a startup, you know, it’s very important to respect the history and just try to enhance. Our biggest thing we teach, you know, is hospitality here, you know, we like to customize the experience for the guest. I always tell everybody, it’s what the guest remember the most is how we made them feel. When you compare that with amazing food, it’s just kind of a winning combination. Want to see more great interviews and videos around Billings, Montana? Subscribe to 41 Realty Group on YouTube today and never miss out on everything that is great about our town.

General Real Estate

Do You Know All These Billings Trivia? [VIDEO]

In this video, Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group, went downtown and asked local Billings residents some trivia. Some they got right, some they didn’t. Do you think you can get all of this Billings trivia? Watch the video or keep reading to find out!

Most Montanans Will Know This Billings Trivia – Do You?

Let’s break it down by question and see if you know Billings as much as you think you do.

Questions #1 – What year was Billings founded?

People struggled with this question when Nicole asked local residents, but the answer is 1882.

It was first founded by the Northern Pacific Railroad on a site originally known as Clark’s Fork Bottom.

Question #2 – Where did Billings get its name?

Billings was named after Frederick Billings, the president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and was established as a rail hub in 1882. 

Question #3 – How many people live in Billings?

As of 2020, the population of Billings, Montana, is 109,868. It is known as the largest city in Montana and the 282nd largest city in the US. Billings has a population density of 2,463 people per square mile, spanning over 45 miles. Billings is the only city in Montana with a population of more than 100,000.

Question #4 – What street does the West End start on?

Many people in the video guessed that the West End of Billings, Mt starts on 24th street, and anything west of that is considered the “West End.” However, this is still up for debate across town. 

What do you think?

Question #5 – What is the area before 19th street or the West End called? 

This is another Billings trivia question that is up for debate! Some people called it central, and some people called it midtown. Other people just answered that it was the area around their house! What do you think these areas should be called, and where do they start and end?

Question #6 – Do you know where Rehberg Ranch Is? Is it in the Heights or the West End?

If you watched the video, most people answered this question correctly. Rehberg Ranch is located in the Heights! Rehberg Ranch is one of Billings’ most desirable residential subdivisions. 

It’s a newer community named after AJ Rehberg, a man who staked a claim in the early 1900s on a high stretch of rimrock prairie land above Billings that is mostly hidden from the rest of the town.

Question #7 – Who is the current Mayor of Billings?

Only one person answered this one correctly, but Billings’s mayor is a man named Bill Cole. He was born and raised in Bozeman, MT, and graduated from Dartmouth College with a history degree. He then received his law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York City. In 1991, he and his wife Anne Remmer Cole moved to Billings. 

His term ends in December of 2021.

Question #8 – What do you love most about Billings?

Some of the residents that Nicole interviewed answered similarly to one another, saying that Billings has always been their home, and the people are the best part of the town. Others said that they love everything that Billings has to offer surrounding the city, like hiking and fishing and the scenery. Another person said that the Billings music scene is what they love the most.

A lot of people love the blend of city and home-town vibes that Billings offers, as well as the ability to get away from the people when you need some open spaces. Another group of people said that the best part about Billings is that there is always something to do. There are always events and activities happening around town for the whole family to enjoy. 

Question #9 – What is one thing you would like to see added to our community?

When asked what they would like to see added to the community, the answers differed. One person said they would like to see more community-based events. Several people said they would like to see more diverse fast-food options like Chik-Fil-A and In-N-Out, while another said they would love to see more parks and areas for recreation. 

What do you think would benefit the Billings community? We’d love to hear your comments and see what you thought about this Billings trivia and whether answers differed from the video’s locals!

Billings Real Estate Agent 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

How To Choose The Right Billings Real Estate Agent

Thinking about buying or selling a home? Both of those processes can be an exciting experience and a life-changing one at that. Whether it’s the thrill of the house hunt and the possibility of a new life and growing family, or moving on to the next chapter, a new home is full of hopeful opportunities. The entire process can be enhanced by a good real estate agent who knows all the ins and outs of your market. However, we know that in Billings, MT, there are so many different brokerages and agents out there to choose from, which means that finding the right one is more of a challenge than even finding the perfect house. Especially since working with the right real estate agent who is both experienced and trustworthy can help you sell your home for the best price or find your dream home within your budget. When you’re looking for a Billings real estate agent, you’ve come to the right place.

To help you with the selection process, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you find the best real estate agent, no matter where you live.

Simple Tips To Help You Choose The Best Billings Real Estate Agent

Here are a few tips to help you choose the best Billings real estate agent to help you buy, sell, and even fix and flip.

Start By Looking For Referrals In Your Own Network

The first thing you should do when looking for the right Billings real estate agent is to ask around. Ask friends and family members who they’ve worked with and trusted in the past. Use your network to find out who had amazing experiences. You’ll want to work with someone who has worked with people who are in the same situation as you. Specifically, first-time buyers’ needs are different from those of frequent buyers or homeowners looking to downsize.

We suggest looking for Realtors with a capital R. This specific title means that they are National Association of Realtors (NAR) members. Loosely speaking, this means they have formally agreed to abide by the NAR’s code of ethics. Some Realtors and agents also have specific certifications to show they’ve completed additional training. 

Once you’ve found a name or two of local agents and brokers, the next step is to examine their online presence. Look at their social profiles, their website, and how they promote their current listings. It is also helpful to look at online reviews, but be cautious. One or two negative reviews are normal for successful agents, but if more than 50% of their reviews are unhelpful experiences, that might be a red flag.

Look For Signs Or Open Houses

If you aren’t really excited about digging online for agent profiles, check out your local market in person. Drive or walk around your neighborhood or the neighborhood you want to be in and look for repeat agent names on signs. If you’re seeing the same name or brokerage name time and time again, it most likely is because they care about their business and want to be recognized as an asset to their community. 

Another way you can get to know an agent is to visit open houses. Get a feel for them in person and see how well they are selling another home and interacting with potential buyers. This is a great way to get a feel for their personality and see how they work.

Ask The Right Questions 

When you’re interviewing or getting to know your potential new agent, make sure you are asking the right questions. Find out how long they have been working in real estate, whether they work primarily with buyers or sellers, and how many active clients they have at a time. 

Ask if they are a part of a team, their specialty, and their marketing strategy for both buying and selling. Working with a brokerage is usually a great bet because you’ll have a team of knowledgeable agents and brokers to handle any issues and questions that come up.

Set Clear and Realistic Expectations

When picking an agent to help you buy and sell, you must set your communication preferences and let your agent know your expectations. Usually, the greatest complaint regarding any Billings real estate agent is that they aren’t communicating well. Make sure you are on the same page with your agent from the get-go. Ask them what their expectations are for you as the buyer or seller and ask them how often they will contact you. Maybe your agent prefers email while you prefer phone calls. This might not make for a great client-agent relationship. Similarly, if you’re looking for weekly updates and have a lot of questions, and your agent isn’t great at answering the phone, then you might want to look for someone who is a better fit.

We also think that it’s important you clarify your motivation and goals. If you’re on a strict timeline or have wishlist items that can’t be broken, make sure you’re communicating that with your agent. Layout everything you’re expecting right away so your agent knows all of your expectations. 

At the end of the day, you want to agree with your agent on all the important details. A great agent relationship starts with clearly defined expectations and communication strategies.

Go With Your Gut

We know that when it comes to choosing the right agent, an agent’s ability to make the process smooth and easy is just as important as experience and knowledge. You want to feel mutual trust and comfortability with your agent, as often the closing process can get a little complex.

At the end of the day, you should go with your gut. Finding the right agent is a little like dating; you’ll know if you have chemistry right away. It’s about personality fit just as much as finding someone who knows their stuff.

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Finding A Billings Real Estate Agent

When it comes to finding the right real estate agent, the bottom line is to shop around and do your research. You want someone you connect with, someone you trust, someone who knows the industry and has a large network and inventory on their side at the end of the day. 

Have questions about real estate? We’d love to help. Reach out to us today to discuss your goals.