HELENA — Tucked on the east side of Canyon Ferry Lake sits the Highlander Bar & Grill and the Norwegian Wood golf course. The businesses' owner Rene Requa said like many business owners, he was frightened by what could transpire as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what he found was that it wasn't all bad.
“The golf course remained open and we had an early spring and we were super busy. I mean, when COVID was just getting going and things were going crazy. We were super busy. And we were allowed to sell drinks from the bar and solo cups out the front door," said Requa as he thought back to May of last year. "Our dining in the summertime was crazy busy. And we do have outdoor camping here. We have a cabin and four glamping tents, that was crazy busy.”
By definition, Requa's business is a tourist destination, and while COVID-19 did cause a lack of tourism in the spring and summer of 2020, Requa said aside from following the guidelines, last summer’s drop didn’t really affect them because of people's desire to be outside.
“Our revenues were probably down a little bit. But it was okay. I mean, we really, we didn't suffer that much," said Requa as he sat in the bar area of the Highlander. "Not as much as our friends and Helena who had restaurants who I think really took a hard hit.”
Requa said while the business he has isn't a large one, it's not a small operation either as he tried to balance everything that was thrown his way last year. As for this year, Requa hopes the business stays steady but manageable.
"Just trying to keep it down to a gentle roar. And we're going to turn some people away and they're not going to be happy," said Requa. "We got to do a good job. The minute you start screwing up with the kitchen, people get on the internet, start writing bad reviews and things go to heck."
Requa noted its year, regardless of what he wants, he expects it to just as busy, but all things considered, "It's a good problem," said Requa.