Blacksmith Italian and Freshies

Blacksmith Italian and Freshies are both expanding into the former space of Sola Cafe Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Bozeman.

Sola Café on Kagy has closed and made way for two new developments: a new cafe and an additional dining room for Blacksmith Italian.

Freshies, a new fast-casual cafe with a coffee bar, has taken over part of what was Sola Café, while Blacksmith has taken over a smaller portion to add 32 seats to its offerings.

Matt and Devan Hammond are the owners of Freshies, which they say has a tentative opening date of early March.

“It will be healthy, good food, but convenient and quick,” Matt said.

The two are planning on buying a state-of-the-art commercial espresso machine and are rearranging the cafe so the coffee bar is the first thing customers see. Freshies will offer soup, salads, sandwiches and baked goods as grab-and-go and through the drive-through, and seating for those who want to stick around to eat. Eventually, Devan said, they hope to have coolers with fresh and healthy food in places like the hospital and airport.

Devan, who went to MSU for her masters in nutrition and sustainable food systems, said the two decided to leave Seattle and open the cafe for a “better life-work balance.” The two have a five-month-old daughter, Carter, who they say is the real boss of Freshies.

Next door at Blacksmith, Steve and Cory Dragone are also hard at work on the expansion of Blacksmith.

“We’re six years old and still going,” said Steve, the owner. Cory is his son and the restaurant’s main chef. “It’s a good time to grow.”

This isn’t the first time Blacksmith has considered the expansion. Before the space was offered to former Sola owner Tiffany Lach five years ago, it was offered to the father-and-son duo.

“We had the option of taking that space then, but we were a new restaurant,” said Cory. “Even before Sola was leaving, we were going to commit to that space.”

The new dining room will mean a couple different things for the restaurant. Cory said he hopes to do private dinners in the new space during slower months, and Steve said it will allow Blacksmith to take reservations for the patio during the summer and have a backup in case the weather turns sour.

Blacksmith is open for dinner during the construction, and is hoping to have the new space ready for reservations on Valentines Day, if not earlier.

Hanging in the new dining room is a huge black-and-white picture of the Dragone family from decades ago — when Steve was 4 or 5. The picture has lots of smiles and even more character. There’s a woman eating cake with her hands and a man taking a swig out of something in a bottle.

Steve is in the picture — kind of. His forehead is visible in the bottom right corner.

“They were having a good time, and that’s what we want this place to be all about,” Steve said.

Sola owner Tiffany Lach didn’t respond to requests for comment. Sola was put up for sale in the spring of 2019. She told the Chronicle in May 2019 that she was selling because she bit off more than she could handle when she opened Compass Cafe in Big Sky, and that she wanted to be closer to family in San Francisco.

Her LinkedIn profile says she moved to the San Francisco area in October to be a business adviser.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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