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Biz Buzz: 90-year-old business in Firth under new ownership, being remodeled

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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.

BIZ BUZZ

FIRTH

Family-owned bar and restaurant in Firth being updated for new generation

Collets pic
July 2017 Google photo of Collet’s taken by Charles Steggell

FIRTH – When it closed in 2020, Collet’s Pub at 132 Main Street in Firth had been serving customers for 90 years.

Holly Johnson, who has fond memories of eating hamburgers there with her family as a kid, recently bought the 1,200-square-foot space and the old theater next to it.

She and her husband, Brian, and their friends, Brett and Jeniece Olive and Shuryce Prestwich, are working on updating it and giving it a fresh, new look. They’re tentatively planning to reopen Collet’s sometime in September.

“Our original plan was to open as-is and let people experience all the nostalgia of how it was when we were kids,” Holly tells EastIdahoNews.com. “The original bar top in here — we’re putting a clear coat (of paint) on it because it’s been signed and etched into (over the years).”

Collets etched bar
A photo of the bar etchings and engravings at Collet’s. | April 2018 Google photo taken by Nicole Bissell

The theater portion is a shell of a building with some remaining seats from days gone by. It has a lot of sentimental appeal for many people in the community, and Holly wants to preserve that.

It will remain closed to the public until she figures out what to do with it.

“We would love to use it possibly as an event center. We just want to get people’s opinions and see what they want,” says Holly.

Over the next few years, the couple is planning to turn the upstairs portion of the theater into apartments.

“We’ve always loved (this building). It’s literally the last old building in our city. Everything else has been torn down,” she says. “It’s so rundown, but the shell is well built, and we thought, ‘Let’s see if he’d like to sell.'”

The person she’s talking about is Donny Collet, the grandson of the original owner. Holly bought the building from him in April, but before that, it had been in the Collet family for generations.

Collets grocery
Before it was Collet’s, the building was a grocery store. | Historical photo provided by Holly Johnson

It dates back to the early 1900s when it operated as a garage and a grocery store for some time.

“We have pictures of the building in 1910, but we don’t know exactly what year it was built,” Holly says.

Grant Collet bought it in 1930 and opened Collet’s Pub. It was the first bar in the state to have Budweiser Beer on tap, according to Holly.

“The original Collet’s Bar was in the back. It wasn’t in the front where it is now,” she says. “Apparently, when they closed the grocery store, they moved the bar to the front.”

The history of the theater is less clear. Holly doesn’t remember what it was called or who owned it, but she does recall Crystal Maiz Dance Hall being on the top floor at one point.

Part of the thrill of this renovation project for Holly is discovering bits of history as it progresses.

The project is expected to grow and evolve over the next several years. Holly is planning to eventually do a full remodel of the building and expand it with new amenities.

For her, the building is a monument to the town’s history, and she’s looking forward to keeping it alive for future generations.

“We wanted to keep the Collet’s name, and we wanted to have something in Firth again,” says Holly. “There are no eating or drinking establishments in Firth except the convenience store and a drink shop … so we wanted to give people a place to grab a burger for lunch like we always did when we were kids.”

Firth native Howard Hall wrote this song in 2020 about his hometown and his memory of visiting Collett’s Pub.

BIZ BITS

Power company board member appointed to regional position

Doug Schmier
Doug Schmier | Courtesy photo

ASHTON – Fall River Electric Cooperative board member Doug Schmier has been appointed second vice president of the Board of Trustees of the Northwest Public Power Association.

The appointment came at NWPPA’s recent annual business meeting in Coeur d’Alene. The regional association represents more than 155 customer-owned, locally controlled utilities in the Western U.S. and Canada. NWPPA is governed by a 20-member board of trustees comprised of member utility representatives.

Schmier was previously NWPPA’s secretary-treasurer and past president of Fall River Electric Cooperative’s board. He was elected to Fall River’s board in 2010 and is a resident and business owner in West Yellowstone, Montana.

There’s still plenty to do in Yellowstone Park

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana – With the recent flooding, a lot has changed in Yellowstone National Park in the past couple of weeks.

If you are planning a vacation – or are wondering if you should still come – West Yellowstone, Montana, is open and safe, and there is still plenty for visitors to see and do.

Activities such as trail hiking or mountain biking on one of the many trails are accessible right within town. Families can catch glimpses of wildlife up close at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, (which was recently named a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Winner.)

Vacationers can also attend the Wild West Rodeo or go on guided horseback rides.

Click here to learn more.

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If you have a Biz Buzz item you want to share, send it to rett@eastidahonews.com. Remember to use “Biz Buzz” in the subject line. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the free Biz Buzz email newsletter.

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