Burger Dive’s Move to Former Dive Bar is Great for Minnesota Ave
Fans of what many consider to be the best burger restaurant in Montana were excited to hear the announcement over the weekend that the Burger Dive is planning to move to a new location, as reported by the Billings Gazette.
Even before the restaurant won the 2016 best burger at the World Food Championship, the Burger Dive has always been crowded, and moving to a much bigger space (as well as extending their hours to 8 p.m.) will be a welcomed upgrade. After 10 years at their current location on 27th Street North, the extra table space and available parking will be awesome for customers. Their current (tiny) parking lot wedged between Jake's and the Dive is nearly impossible to snag a spot at during lunchtime. And forget about trying to park a large SUV or F-350 in the cramped lot.
In Billings' early years, Minnesota Avenue was home to numerous bars, cigar stores, Chinese restaurants, and at times, the street bordered on being the closest thing Billings had to a "red light district." In the past couple of decades, numerous properties have been renovated into office space, restaurants, and other ventures. However, the block of Minnesota Ave between 27th St and 28th St has remained fairly bleak.
On the east end of the block is Smiling Dog Records (at one time a seedy adult bookstore), followed by mostly empty buildings in the middle. There is a massage therapy office, then the former Western and Wheel bar (circled in red), followed by another building that looked to be converted into a residence. Capping off the west end of the block is the former Yukon Bar. The Yukon (which operated into the '80s) is on the National Register of Historic Place and is now the home to High Plains Architects.
The Western and Wheel Bar closed in the early 2000s. It was a fun, divey, biker bar until it closed. Some folks may have been intimidated to visit the place, but it was fun. Cheap, stiff drinks, a great jukebox, and shooting pool on day-drinking adventures are my memories of the place. According to a Gazette article in 2018, the building was purchased by a developer from Denver, who planned to make the building into apartments.
Obviously, that never happened as the owner of the Burger Dive just purchased the building. When I stopped by the restaurant today to inquire about a timeline for moving into the new location, I was told at least six months, possibly longer. I'm hoping they bring the wall of famous signatures, signed on Burger Dive menus, to the new digs.
We can't wait to check it out when it reopens. I would love to see this block of Minnesota Avenue really come to life, and become the "new" Montana Avenue. The Burger Dive might just have the drawing power to bring people to the historic block. More traffic to the area could see the vacant buildings to each side of the old Wheel come alive.