The Union nearly ready for business

Cole Mannix.JPG
Posted at 8:43 PM, Mar 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 22:43:48-04

HELENA — Construction is nearly complete at the former site of Bert and Ernie’s for the incoming butcher shop and restaurant, The Union. The space has been gutted and remodeled, expanding the Montana-based and run Old Salt Co-op.

“And when you’re buying it from people you know you have a connection to where it comes from. I think it just, it builds neighborliness. And so, I think that is what local food means to me,” says the owner, Cole Mannix.

You may know of Old Salt from their burgers and fries outpost in the gold bar or their meat-processing plant on the east side of town.

While this market and restaurant may be new, it’s rooted in history. The original Union Market was open from 1944 to 1989.

“...before my time. But you know, people talk about at Thanksgiving and Christmas time a line around the block to they would order in, you know, specials, seafood, even,” says Mannix.

And Mannix says that The Union will be as much about choice cuts as it is about community.

“Selling to our neighbors, exchanging with our neighbors, providing service, and being a part of the community in a really physical brick-and-mortar way. So, this place, as scary as it is to try to renovate something like this. You gotta have the space, you know, you gotta have a place to gather,” says Mannix.

Coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and local bread and produce will be served up front. The restaurant section extends from the 1st floor into the mezzanine with views of the Cathedral of St. Helena and will serve local meats and local vegetables. The selection of cured and raw meat will be sourced from Montana ranches throughout the area.

“So, the Hibbard family, and Sieben Live Stock Company, the J Bar L Ranches, and the Anderson family, the LF Ranch are all parts of that initial group of folks that are providing the livestock. And then, we're built to be able, as we can increase the demand and the local marketplace, we’ll add more farms and ranches who participate in the Old Salt company. So, this is definitely way more than a Mannix project. I just happen to be a Mannix,” says Mannix.

With the help of around 50 employees, The Union will be open Tuesday through Sunday. And as long as things go according to plan, Mannix hopes to open to the public on April 12.

“Really, the whole menu is designed around moving whole animals, moving produce and products from the Montana landscape and making it accessible to Montanans,” says Mannix.