It seems like a typical weekday afternoon at Red’s Wines & Blues in downtown Kalispell, with talkative professionals packing the tables and booths for lunch.
But these could be the last days for the popular restaurant and bar. On June 24, owner Bill Goodman announced plans to close Red’s on Saturday, June 30.
While many businesses in the Flathead Valley have had difficulty staying staffed in a tight labor market, Goodman says that was never the problem for him.
He places the blame squarely on himself.
“The community loved us, and we loved us, and we were a very vital thing…” he says. “What wasn’t successful was the management, and that was me.”
Goodman says he never intended to manage the restaurant himself, but in two years of operation he went through six managers, unable to find the right person to run it.
“When I fired people, I’d inherit their job,” he says.
And he admits that running a restaurant wasn’t his talent, either.
Kalispell resident Mark Holston, a frequent customer whose band, Cocinando, played Red’s, lamented the loss.
“There are fewer and fewer businesses, restaurants and otherwise, that really speak to the character of the community,” he says. “They’re all becoming franchises and look-alikes; you can be inside one and not know if you are in San Diego, or Boston, or Kalispell.”
Holston also notes the importance of Red’s to the Kalispell music scene.
“It did a lot in downtown Kalispell in creating a scene there for live music, and a wide variety of music,” he says.
Despite his difficulties, Goodman says he’s “jacked” about the future of downtown Kalispell.
“There’s so much going on down here,” he says. “There’s so many people moving their money from Bend, Oregon, or Missoula, or wherever, to Kalispell.”
Holston says he’s spoken with a few people about the possibility of leasing the restaurant, and eventually having it reopen.
“I’ve been in conversations a lot of yesterday and some of today,” he says. “I think that in one form or another, Red’s will rise again.”