America Restaurant coming to Billings South Side
The Fourth of July holiday should be a big day for an eatery called America Family Restaurant, and owner Sean Johnson is aiming to be open by then on Billings South Side.
Remodeling continued last week on the $4 million project to redevelop the former Geyser Park Family Fun Center at 4910 Southgate Dr. into a restaurant, bar and casino.
When completed, hopefully in mid to late June, Johnson said the restaurant will be ideal for travelers and locals. Two patios, smoking and non-smoking, will be built out front. A sand volleyball court is out back. A giant, 200-inch TV screen will be above the bar, surrounded by smaller sets, and more than a dozen items will be available on the kids’ menu to attract families, Johnson said.
“The South Side really needs a full-blown restaurant,” the 48-year-old former owner of The Bayou Restaurant said.
Johnson is partnering with Barb and Dave Hawkins, who own a contracting firm. Johnson will be the owner/operator, and he’s hired a general manager, Cameron Rickard, 30, who previously worked for him at The Bayou.
The property became available after John Williamson, owner of Geyser Park, decided in 2015 to sell the business in two chunks and downsize in a new spot at 7250 Entryway Dr.
Johnson and his partners bought the three-acre parcel, which includes the building and parking lot, in January 2016.
Stockman Bank is financing the project.
America Family is in the South Billings Urban Renewal District, which leverages tax-increment financing to attract development. The district has funded pieces of a handful of developments in the neighborhood, including Comfort Suites next door, and made the area more attractive for private development.
Johnson said the location was a key selling point for the ownership group.
“We look at it as a complete bargain. We’re surrounded by hotels, and we’re right by the highway,” he said.
In fact, America Family will offer free delivery to hotel guests along the Southgate Drive corridor during lunch and dinner into the evening. The restaurant will also have a gift shop with made in Montana items, targeted at hotel guests, Johnson said.
The food is classic Americana: burgers, fried chicken, steaks and a salad bar. America Family will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Johnson is a U.S. Navy veteran, and his love of country inspired the theme for the restaurant. The American flag is the main part of the logo, and the red, white and blue colors will be prominently
Johnson, who never finished high school, said he believes “if you work hard, this country will take care of you.”
The hours at America Family Restaurant will be 6 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends. The lounge will be open until 2 a.m. daily.