NewsLocal News

Actions

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location
Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 15, 2024

BILLINGS — Chalet Market has been a staple in the Billings community for decades, and the announcement of the closure of the original location on 24th Street West was heartbreaking news to the original owner.

Dean Cromwell and his brother purchased an existing business in that location in 1981. Cromwell was 20 years old and his brother was 24 at the time.

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location

“We kind of had an idea of Pickle Barrel style sandwiches from Bozeman (and) Chalet Market (sausage products) sort of molded together," Cromwell said on Monday.

The brothers had a bit of a plan, big dreams and $5,000 they borrowed from their parents to get started.

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location

“It was called the Dilly Dally Deli," Cromwell said. "And I answered, 'Dilly Dally Deli this is Dean' and we quickly changed the name to Chalet Market.”

Cromwell said the first day they opened was Feb. 9, 1981. There was a snowstorm and they only made $39 that day, but things quickly started looking up.

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location

“I was 20 years old, you know? I was a college kid and people ask me why I got into it and I jokingly say it’s just because I didn’t know any better,” he said. “(We) started offering the big sub sandwiches and pretty soon there was a line out the door.”

After owning the shop for a few years, Cromwell bought his brother out of the business and continued running it with his family. His kids grew up at Chalet Market and eventually worked there, too.

“They still have their sandwiches on the menu. The Jake Special. The Sarah Special,” he said. “My mother, my dear mother who passed away at 93 last year, worked the counter for many years.”

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location
Dean Cromwell

After 36 years of owning the shop, Cromwell decided to sell. He had recently purchased The Spoke Shop, which he still owns, and wanted to "play a little bit more and work a little bit less," so he sold the Chalet Market in 2017.

Two years ago, Kristi Brown purchased the shop. She kept the family business model, with her daughter managing the 24th Street West location.

“My daughter, she runs this place, she’s the manager here and she’s done an awesome job,” Brown said. “But she’s 22 and she's ready to move on, and I need to let her do that.”

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location

Brown noted personal reasons for wanting to close the Chalet Market on 24th Street West, as well as the building's age. They announced the closure late last week.

“The building is older, as you can imagine, and as great as that is and everybody loves the nostalgic building, it takes a lot to keep it up,” Brown said. “We just decided it was time to regroup, re-energize and decide what the future of Chalet Market is going to look like.”

'Iconic business': Chalet Market announces closure of original Billings location
Kristi Brown

The people who owned the market between Brown and Cromwell opened a downtown location of Chalet Market, located in the basement of the First Interstate Building. This location will stay open and Brown said she is excited to put more energy towards that location. She said they hope to eventually reopen in another location on the West End but do not have any plans set in stone.

Brown said they had sold the building to the business owner next door and the last official day to eat there will be this Friday. The gift shop items in Chalet Market are all 50% off.

“It's just sad to see it go, but you just have to relish the memories,” Cromwell said.