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Gallatin Co. tops list for retail food establishments

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 12 2014 07:12:44 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 12 2014 07:29:41 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Gallatin County has more retail food large licenses than any other county in Montana. Gallatin County leads the way with 560 licensed restaurants, bars, bakeries, and meat markets. A category including basically any prepared food seller with three or more employees.

We went to businesses who fall in this category, like Dave's Sushi off Main. We spoke to one of the owners, Aaron Parker, to get an idea of what it is like being in one of Montana's most crowded markets.

 "It gives everyone in Gallatin County and Bozeman a lot of different options to choose from so many when they eat out," said Parker.

Parker welcomes the competition, saying he tries not to focus on other restaurants.

"It's a good thing for this industry overall because eating out is something people love to do in this city because of all the outdoor activities," said Parker.

 Parker says they work on getting people to have an overall great experience, hoping they will want to come back time and time again.

"We try to pride ourselves on customer service, quality and efficiency," said Parker.

Wednesday afternoon we also met with Donna Ray-Grinwis. She has been the owner of Soby's Cafe in downtown since 2008.

She tells us her key to keeping up with the rest is consistency.

"We try to make sure everyone is happy when they leave, give them great food, great service, we try to get them to come back," said Ray-Grinwis.

Soby's has been downtown since the 1970's, but lately it's gotten tougher.

"There is only so many people in Bozeman to eat out,  to be honest 2013 was the worst year I have ever had," said Ray-Grinwis.

The more restaurants in town, the tougher it is carve out a piece of the pie.

"As far as restaurants opening, I think people like to give them a shot and try them out and if they like them they will continue to go," said Ray-Grinwis.

Both owners know Gallatin County as a whole is just a desirable place for people to work, live, and most importantly, eat.

We learned more about how the county health department handles so many establishments.
It is the responsibility of the local health department to inspect all those businesses, as well as school cafeterias and food distributors. In Gallatin County, the Environmental Health Director, Tim Roark, tells us they are responsible for around 769 different establishments.

Gallatin County has eight employees to do those checks, five of which are dedicated solely to restaurants. We are told inspections are divided among the staff. Each person is responsible for completing 100 to 200 "risk-based"  inspections every three months. You can find those restaurant inspection reviews online at Healthy Gallatin.