Bozeman Business Boom: What does the boom mean for local restaurants?

BOZEMAN- With expansion taking shape in the Bozeman area growing pains are slowly emerging.

For local businesses, these growing pains can be displayed in a variety of different ways, new competition, lack of employees, or chains taking over.

“There’s a huge amount of competition in the area now for breakfast lunch and coffee,” Serena Rundberg the owner of Feed Café said, “we’re seeing that and were competing with the best of them.”

Rundberg has watched Bozeman grow along with her business. She's going head-to-head with corporate chains and is showing no signs of slowing down. 

“I started with NOVA Café in 2005 and now we have six locations in Bozeman,’ Rundberg said.  

In her 15 years of successfully owning restaurants, she says there is something about the boom in Bozeman that worries her. 

“I think it has changed a lot of things, I think it has changed hiring people, there is less and less workforce here in Bozeman as more professionals are moving in that’s a real challenge,” Rundberg said, “I think affordable housing for our employees is a huge challenge.” 

With the unemployment rate in Bozeman sitting at 1.8% where's the national average is 3.7% finding people to work minimum-wage jobs who can live off of tips and still make rent is becoming more and more difficult.

“I don’t ever want to lose how beautiful and awesome the community is here in Bozeman,” Rundberg said. 

13% of an average American's income is spent on dining out. But with the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment starting at $1200 in Bozeman it's not leaving an available workforce in the area of people who can work for minimum wage.

It's pushing the once available workforce to Belgrade, Manhattan, and Livingston.

“There is enough business in Bozeman for several concepts and we have capitalized on that,” Rundberg said. 

Rundberg is seeing success. She's about to open her sixth location.

She attributes her success to being true to her local roots and being open to all but hopes that the affordable housing situation improves.

“I think the growth here is good, I hope it’s managed properly and I hope that the newer people will learn to love and support this community as well as the people who have been here a while,” Rundberg said. 

But for the Bozeman restaurant entrepreneur, the cities support has meant everything to her. Only recently winning a Cornerstone Award from the Downtown Business Association.

“I think Bozeman has really helped, I really do, I don’t think it could’ve been done just anywhere it takes a unique community to support what we are doing,” Rundberg said.

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