One of our favorite places in Billings, Montana, is Harper & Madison. Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group interviews the owner of Harper & Madison to learn a little bit more about the history of this incredible coffee shop and bakery.
Read on for the full transcript of the video.
Harper & Madison – An Inside Look At The Restaurant We Love In Billings, MT
Nicole: Hey there I’m Nicole King I’m the broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana and today we get to sit down with Joanie. Joanie owns Harper and Madison, you’ve probably driven by it plenty of times when you’ve headed either away from the hospitals toward Pioneer Park or the opposite direction. They’re on 10th Avenue North, you can’t miss them – they are the cutest little shop and when you come in you can see that this is just the most welcoming and wonderful space.
so Joanie thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Tell us how you came to be, how did you get to be in this location, how’d you name your restaurant – anything you think we should know.
Joanie: The story, okay, this is actually my third business and it’s my favorite by far. I started this business 10 years ago.
Joanie: Thanks, and originally it was going to be out on the west end on Zimmerman. I had actually signed a lease there, but it wasn’t feeling right so I was searching for a different location that felt right and I never drive down 10th avenue but for some reason, that day I was driving down 10th avenue and I saw a big for sale sign in the window of this building and I screeched to a halt. I really didn’t even close my door I ran from my car and looked in the window and I said that’s it. I knew that i wanted to have a place that was unique in Billings and not about volume and crazy busy. I wanted a place where I could build community and this seemed like exactly the right location for that and it has been.
Nicole: Yeah for sure. Great job. I think building community is exactly what you do.
Joanie: Thanks, thanks.
Nicole: And so then you set about naming it and figuring out what it looks like.
Joanie: Right originally I had planned on just opening a bakery and it accidentally turned itself into a restaurant within a few days, you know. I had five sandwiches on the menu just in case someone would like to come in from the hospital or the clinic and and grab lunch but uh like i said within three days it was clear that I had accidentally opened a restaurant so we went with that and it’s been that for the last 10 years, up until recently.
Joanie: The name comes from my kids my daughter is Harper and my son is Madison and they have literally worked with me since they were toddlers my son used to call us “Team Cake.”
Nicole: Oh my gosh, that is the cutest. I love it.
Joanie: So it felt good and uh and it makes me just – I feel like I have them here with me even though they’re far away now.
Nicole: Sure, yeah. so originally when you opened you had really long hours, a huge menu, and then recently kind of revaluated as everything shut down, did some remodeling – tell me about that process.
Joanie: We did we’ve, we’ve gone through a couple of transitions. This last time was definitely COVID-related when we had to restrict our seating, it was no longer feasible to support a staff of 12, even doing takeout. And besides, that isn’t what we’re here for. We’re not here to become a fast-food restaurant.
It really is a place for people to come and sit and be loved through food. So I made the decision to downsize. The sad part was letting some of my staff go because they were all wonderful. We went from a staff of 12 to a staff of five and decided to become a patisserie. So we sell European style desserts and a few breakfast items but we no longer do food to order, so it’s not that fast-paced busy crazy restaurant.
It’s more like the original vision that I had for it which is sweet so I guess if anything good came out of COVID it led me to where it is now.
Nicole: Oh that’s beautiful beautiful story and your food is beautiful.
Nicole: What’s in those cabinets and what comes out on the plates is just gorgeous. You can tell so much love has gone into it so much thought about the ingredients and the presentation, everything.
I saw a picture of a sandwich from your brother the other day.
Nicole: It’s got this great bow on it and everything oh my gosh, it’s wonderful.
Joanie: We have a motto here and that is yeah, it all matters.
Nicole: Yeah, it feels like it for sure. So what are your hours?
Joanie: We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from seven to one.
Joanie: We do have seating and so you can come in and enjoy one of our breakfast items or a pastry or a dessert, a great cup of coffee, and just relax and and be loved on.
Nicole: Yeah, yeah, wow that is amazing. The another thing that you’re doing is that we’ve partnered with you for the benefit of veterans. So your family has a long history of military service, thank you to your entire family for everything. Both to those who have served to sacrifice but then also all the sacrifice of, you know, family members.
Joanie: Yeah, yeah, I have many men in my family who have served in the military and you know they have shared with me what that was like. It’s a sacrifice that I can’t imagine making so that when you approached me about partnering, I was more than happy to say yes to that.
Nicole: Oh well, we really appreciate it so anybody can come down here, order a cup of coffee, and five cents for every cup sold this year is going to go directly to the help of veterans.
Joanie: So we need to sell a lot of coffee.
Nicole: Yeah, yeah, come down get some coffee, enjoy everything else that’s on their menu. Be loved on through food as Joanie says. Come down to harper madison and experience it for yourself.
Joanie: Thanks for having me!
Nicole: Thanks for having me!