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Mug Crawl highlights coffee shops in downtown Billings

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Posted at 9:36 PM, Feb 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-14 18:08:27-05

Downtown Billings Alliance events have been limited or canceled for most of the last year because of the pandemic.

COVID precauctions led to the Mug Crawl.


"Very much created with COVID in mind," said Lindsay Richardson, DBA events director. "The Mug Crawl is a pub crawl style event. We have a really good coffee scene. We're doing these micro events, out of downtown right now to keep the crowd manageable."

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Photo credit: KTVQ

"I was kind of knocked back by how many people I had right away, right out of the gate so it was exhilarating," said Gustavo Belotta, general manager of This House of Books. "And I got to remember what it's like to have lots of people in the store at one time. It was a lot of excitement."

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Photo credit: KTVQ

This House of Books served a special tea.

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"Love Potion number nine is our Valentine's Day seasonal flavor," said Belotta. "It is a blend of Guayusa, which is the holly plant, strawberry extract and lime leaf and rose petals."

There are 10 different stops on the Mug Crawl and they say it's good to have all these coffee shops close by.

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While, they're competitors, they also help each other.

"It's kind of a rising tide lifts all boats," Richardson said. "The more this scene thrives, the more they thrive."

"I think it's more the community and the rising tide is really more important than trying to oust anybody else," said Lenny Howes, Ebon Coffee Collective owner.

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Photo credit: KTVQ

"The coffee culture is social events," Belotta said. "And it's important to have places like that for people to meet up and exchange ideas, be creative."

"At least for me anyway it's that the social community aspect of it," said Howes. "The thing that I think keeps bringing people back is just the the friendships and interactions and those day to day interactions, especially this year."

"We're really glad to see people out downtown," Richardson said. "January, February and March, the first quarter of the year is usually a really slow time of year for local small businesses. And so to have an event like this, this time of year is very valuable to every business, not just the coffee shops."

"And who knows, maybe, maybe next time we'll get crazy and be ready with hot chocolate," Belotta said.

Ticket sales were limited to 60, and Richardson anticipates selling hundreds after the COVID-19 pademic.