Feb 09, 2021
Exploring Where We Live
A little coffee shop tucked in at 9 5th Street North recently opened up and I couldn't wait to check it out. I happen to know the owners personally, so it was fun to ask them a few questions to get to know them and their little piece of Great Falls better. Me:Tell me a little bit about your family and your Great Falls history? How long have you and your family lived here? Luna: Iwas born and raised in Great Falls. So were my parents. In fact, the Johnson building on Central Ave was built by my great grandfather, Peter Johnson, and it was originally a hotel. But, I digress. The point is, both sides of my family have been in Great Falls for quite a while. I moved away for college, and I met my husband, Samir, in graduate school in Scotland. Somehow I convinced him to move home to Montana with me. We attended law school at U of M together and after 2 years clerking, we moved to Great Falls in August 2017 to start our law firm and raise our boys. Me: What is something you love about Great Falls? Luna: I love that Great Falls still retains the “frontier spirit”. If you work hard in this town, it’s possible to build a good life for yourself and your family. The cost of living is reasonable, the schools and parks are great, and the community is eager to support new businesses. Me: Why did you want to start Luna Coffee bar? I know you have a lot going on, and I've also managed coffee shops in the past and know that they aren't always easy . . .what prompted you to jump into the restaurant business? Luna: The idea for Luna Coffee Bar occurred to us as we were reminiscing about a trip to Italy when we were able to get a hot panini, a fresh-squeezed orange juice, and an excellent espresso at a reasonable price and quickly. We often have only a few minutes for lunch, and we wished we could get in Great Falls what we could get on any street corner in Florence. Since nothing of that description existed in Great Falls, we knew we’d have to build it ourselves. When the space right below our law firm opened up, we took that as a fortuitous sign and decided now was the time. But of course, opening a coffee shop in the midst of a pandemic has created a unique set of challenges. We figured if we could survive Covid as a new business, we might be on to something. Me: I noticed that you have some gorgeous artwork in your shop. Can you tell me a little bit about those pieces? That artist? The artist is the incredibly talented Alissa Blevins, who works as the legal assistant in our office. We’ve always admired her art, and when we had a bunch of bare walls to decorate in the coffee bar, asking her to paint some pieces for us seemed like the obvious choice. We get a lot of positive feedback about the artwork, and we’re looking forward to displaying more of Alissa’s work in the future. What is your favorite part about the coffee shop so far? My favorite part about the coffee shop is walking in there and seeing three or four people in line (socially distanced, of course!) ordering an espresso and a panini, and knowing that 2 months ago that experience wasn’t possible in Great Falls! But fresh squeezed orange juice in under 30 seconds is pretty great too...