HELENA – Downtown Helena businesses including Ten Mile Creek Brewery, Bad Betty’s Barbecue, The Painted Pot, Gulch Distillers and more are in support of the open container liquor proposal.

“Anything to help the Helena community; we are a very small town, with not much of a nightlife, so if rules can be changed to increase the number of people that are coming downtown, it will help all the business down here,” said Steffen Rasile, owner of Gulch Distillers.

Rasile believes everyone from bars, restaurants, tasting rooms to retail shops can benefit from this proposal.

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“More people on the street equals more business,” said Rasile.

The proposal would allow open containers of alcohol in select areas of downtown.

The areas include:

  • Last Chance Gulch from Lawrence through the Walking mall and up to Pioneer Park.
  • This area extends west to include the parking lot on Park and the crossings and sidewalks of the Park from the Library back down to Broadway
  • The parking lot and street west of the Helena Hotel (née Park Plaza Hotel) and the alley behind the Rialto and Power Block
  • 6th Avenue from the Power Block to the Walking Mall
  • Great Northern Boulevard; from the Cinemark movie theater to the Carousel
  • Front Street from 14th Street to Neill
  • Neill, crossing from Front Street to the Gulch
  • Fuller Ave from Neill to 6th Avenue
  • Lawrence from Grandstreet Theatre to Holter Museum

The ordinance would take place on specified hours, which are:

•Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 4pm-10pm
•Saturday, Sunday, and any city-recognized holiday: 12 noon – 10pm

Containers would be restricted to plastic.

“It doesn’t turn us into a party town. It’s not a 24-hour day, you can drink and do whatever you want in downtown,” Kevin Hamm, Coordinator of the proposed Open Container law.

Kevin Hamm said he created the proposal and has been working with local businesses downtown about the open container law for some time now.

“Basically this just formalizes whats been going on and makes it available to us on a regular basis,” said Hamm.

Hamm said that it would be nice for people to grab a drink and walk to the museum to look at art and check out the shopping downtown.

“It’s not an open license to party, it’s simply a chance for adults to be adults and not be anchored to a business,” said Hamm.

Rasile said Front Street, where his business is located, is often passed by, he said this proposal could bring more people from the rest of downtown to Front Street.

“The perfect way to connect this area to downtown,” said Rasile.

Ron Alles, Helena City Manager, said the city just recently received the petition and needs to speak City Commissioners and to research Montana liquor laws before they take further action.

Alles said they will go over the proposal in their next Wednesday morning administration meeting.