GREAT FALLS — The legacy of a North Central Montana homesteader lives in the form of a new watering hole at 112 Central Avenue in downtown Great Falls.
As the beer flows at Annie’s Taphouse, the legend of the business’ namesake lives on.
“She came over on the Great Northern railroad which is why you see Great Northern pieces in here, historical pieces,” said co-owner Dan Morano.
Annie Busby is the great grandmother of brothers Dan and Steve Morano, who along with Air Force veteran Kevin Younkin, opened the establishment late last year.
Annie was one of the first homesteaders in North Central Montana, coming by train from Washington in 1909 to eventually settle in Power.
Honoring Annie’s legacy by offering locally and regionally produced craft beers seemed a fitting tribute.
“If you read her homestead documents, she grew oats, wheat, and barley,” said Dan. “She had finished 60 acres of land when she proved it up in 1914 and had the paperwork signed by Woodrow Wilson.”
Two of the taphouse’s 24 beers, Homestead Hefeweizen and Helles Bock lager, are a collaboration with East Helena’s Missouri River Brewing that pay homage to Annie’s German roots.
The trio did their best to keep the integrity of the old building in the 100 block of Central Avenue intact while striving for a family friendly place where all are welcome and providing a relaxed atmosphere.
“We really wanted to concentrate more on conversation than us entertaining people,” said Younkin.
“We want them to feel welcome, we want them to feel comfortable,” said Steve Morano. “Be able to talk with one another. Just have a great time and have a great craft beer.”
The owners added another historical touch. They worked with a Great Falls company called Good Wood Guys to create a bar counter that follows the route of the Missouri River and Sun River through Cascade County.
“We’ve had people walk down and point to a location and say ‘I live right here, or I have this meadow here,” said Younkin.
In addition to beer, Annie’s offers cider, seltzer, root beer, wine, coffee and snacks.
Annie’s is a reminder of the past, in a place where business owners share a vision for the future.
“The overall concept that you see in here is we have Al Banco Coffee, we have All the Things Charcuterie, and Tres 65 Celebration Studios, so we are ‘The Commons on Central,’” said Dan Morano. “And we’re really developing that as a way of supporting downtown with multiple businesses in one spot.”