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Just in time for Halloween, the Zebra is coming back from the dead.

The longtime, favorite downtown bar has been renovated and rebranded, opening as both a nightclub and casino in the basement of the Bozeman Hotel building.

The dance and music venue Club Zebra and the Vegas-style casino the Golden Zebra opened early this month at 321 E. Main St. and are open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.

Both business names are an homage to the Zebra Cocktail Lounge, a bar and music venue that operated in that space for nearly 25 years.

“The Zebra name, for us, meant a lot to people. I mean, I used to party at the Zebra,” said co-owner Josh Palmer.

The Zebra Cocktail Lounge, which closed its doors in 2019, was a mainstay in Bozeman’s downtown bar scene. It opened in 1995.

Connected to the Zebra in the same building was the dive bar Colonel Black’s, which reopened in September as the Last Best Comedy Club.

Owners Josh and Justine Palmer, who also own the cocktail bar Room 1 and the Pour House bar in the Bozeman Hotel building, bought the space in 2019. The Palmers, both MSU alumni, previously owned the Midtown Tavern and 14 North.

With the addition of Club Zebra and the Golden Zebra, Josh Palmer hopes to make the Bozeman Hotel a downtown destination — with something for everyone.

Club Zebra is meant to be a dedicated dance spot, Palmer said. Palmer plans to book live bands and DJs, to keep it true to the Zebra of yore.

A weekly schedule will vary with dances classes, theme nights and nights dedicated to one genre like Latin, rock ’n’ roll or EDM nights, he said.

“We’re trying to be a true nightclub downtown,” Palmer said, adding that a dedicated dance spot was missing from the downtown Bozeman area. “People are really looking for a place to dance, where they can dress up and go out on a date night.”

Palmer hopes the dance club, complete with neon lighting, will be a place where people feel safe and welcome.

The bar will have a focused drink menu with cocktails ranging in price from $6 to $14.

“But of course, we’ll have Coors Light available, right?” Palmer joked. “But we programed our drink menu to be a little bit more on the quality side.”

You can find Club Zebra by entering the Bozeman Hotel through the side door (facing North Rouse) and walking downstairs. Club Zebra is to the left of the stairway. Straight ahead is the Golden Zebra.

Since its opening two weeks ago, the Golden Zebra has been packed for its nightly live poker.

“Our goal of this space is to bring the old charm of the building more toward a Vegas casino,” Palmer said.

Golden Zebra has slot and keno machines, two poker tables and sports betting — which has been legal in Montana since 2020.

Both the club and casino underwent extensive renovations, with work beginning on the space in 2019. The club and casino are connected by a hallway.

Both spaces are available to rent for private events and parties. Combined the two spaces can hold about 400 people, Palmer said.

The space now is modern with elements of the historic hotel. Much of the brick foundation and stone walls are still original, Palmer said.

“The goal was to show off the original foundation, with cool lighting and maintain as much history as we could,” Palmer said. “But at the same time, bring a higher energy to it.”

For Palmer, being able to cleanup and preserve some of the building’s history felt good.

“The Bozeman Hotel is important to us and to our family,” Palmer said. “It has that awesome, downtown charm.”

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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