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After 24 years in business, a downtown Bozeman lounge and music venue is closing.

Located in the basement of the Bozeman Hotel building, the Zebra Cocktail Lounge will put on its last show May 28, following a farewell weekend possibly featuring some local band reunions, owner Bryan Hovda said.

Hovda said he decided to close for various reasons. Personally, he was ready for a new challenge, and he doesn’t have the same zeal for music the Zebra’s old owner had. Brett Cline opened the nightclub and music venue in 1995, and Hovda took over in 2014, after working for Cline for 14 years.

“In a lot of ways, that place shaped me,” Hovda said. “There’s been good times and there’s been bad times.”

For Hovda, it seemed like if there ever was a good time to close, it was now. The Bozeman Hotel building is seeing a lot of growth and upgrades, he said, and if he were to keep up with everyone else, he would have to stick around another 10 years or so to see a return on his investment.

Hovda also owns Colonel Black’s, in the same building, and said he plans to focus on that bar for now.

There have also been a number of new music venues that have opened or will open, he said, such as the Rialto and the new venue set to open on North Seventh Avenue. There are also a number of other businesses that put on concerts around town, which has created some competition for the Zebra, Hovda said.

Hovda said he doesn’t know what will go in the space the Zebra currently occupies. Building owners couldn’t be contacted by press time.

“I’ve loved it,” Hovda said. “I really look forward to another challenge.”

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Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

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