Downtown Billings restaurant announces closure

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 13:34:06-04

BILLINGS - The owner of a downtown Billings restaurant announced Friday it was closing its doors after struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lilac owner Jeremy Lee said in a Facebook post that Saturday would be its "last planned service." The restaurant is located at 2515 Montana Ave.

Lee said a "combination of circumstances, both global and local, have lead us to this point."

Lilac chef and owner Jeremy Engebretson told Q2 in May that the restaurant was struggling under coronavirus guidelines that forced restaurants across the state to close or drastically limit dining room service.

Like many in the industry, Lilac shifted to take-out only service.

“I think one thing that gets forgotten about is, especially after being closed for almost two months now, it's really expensive. You have to rebuy all of your inventory, a lot of your alcohol stock. It’s a big amount of money just to open the doors. If you take that expense, you have got to make sure that somebody’s going to buy it," Engebretson said at the time.

Here's the most recent announcement from the business:

Friends and Family -

It is with a mixture of sorrow and gratitude that I write this message to you all. A combination of circumstances, both global and local, have lead us to this point. Saturday, June 13, will be our last planned service at Lilac Restaurant.

I personally want to thank Billings and all of those outside of my hometown for the support over the last eight years. I am thankful to my family who supported me through the volatile ups and downs, successes and failures, accomplishments and mistakes. I also want to thank my amazing staff, both present and prior, for helping me make a series of lifetime dreams come true. They have become a part of my family and have celebrated with me at my highs and carried me through my lows. I will be forever grateful to each and everyone one of you.

This is a challenging time for all of us. Our community has been presented with a series of occasions that many, if not all of us, were unprepared for. Without any history of recourse we are making the best decisions we know how to make each day. I would ask of everyone to try and view one another with grace and compassion as we attempt to move through this historic time. We are all in this together, whether we like it or not.

We will be running what inventory we have this weekend, so once it's gone - it's gone. We will also be selling our wine inventory under the same premise. These walls have been my soul for the past eight years. There is a definitive level of sorrow on my heart as I battle my own demons, forced to see that which I've put so much into lock the door while I watch from a distance. On the same note, it reaffirms the level of trust and talent of those who have chosen to surround me in this little hometown gem we named Lilac.

We planted our seed, we grew, we flourished, and now our season is over. It has been every bit exhilarating and rewarding as I imagined it would be. Again, I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. We couldn't have made it this long without you. I hope our little restaurant left a positive mark on some hearts out there; I know this experience has touched mine.

Until the next spring,

Jeremy Lee