Montana: land of the best beef, wheat...and seafood? Since the Montana Fish Company came ashore in downtown Bozeman, fresh fare from both coasts is finding its way upstream to Gallatin Valley dinner tables.
As it becomes more and more feasible to obtain fresh seafood away from the coasts, Travis Byerly and Kevin Stein, co-owners of the Montana Fish Company, wisely gauged the need for a new fresh fish market in Bozeman. Since they opened their store in June of 2005, Byerly and Stein have enjoyed fast success and a growing reputation. After a visit to the hip MFC, it isn’t hard to see why.
The familiar smells of a fish market are certainly in the air but just as tangible are the energy and personalities of the two young owners. It’s immediately clear that the MFC is not just another fish store. Both Byerly and Stein have fished all over the world; the fisherman’s lifestyle is in their blood and reflected in the store.
Collectible surfboards and paddles loom above colorful seashell charts, and color prints showing themselves with friends and family on fishing expeditions bedeck the walls. In one, their Wholesale Manager Drew Harbour’s father, who skippered a fishing boat out of Newport for twelve years, shows off a big catch in Hawaii. Another shows big-wave surfer Nelson Togioka, MFC’s purchasing agent in Kauai, next to a glistening fish as tall as he.
Married to local sisters Molly and Maggie, the brother-in-law team works well together and agreed on wanting to “create something that fit in Bozeman.”
“We’re here all the time,” says Byerly. Stein adds enthusiastically, “We did everything ourselves...from the flooring to the light fixtures.”
Along with a talented staff, the MFC team has created a new fish market that caters to the growing and diversifying clientele of the Gallatin Valley. This market is not only an interesting place to visit, but a stimulating place to work. Brie Schultz, sushi chef and Finished Product Manager, has been rolling at MFC from the start and says of her coworkers, “We’re all great friends.”
Once aspiring pro-athletes, (Byerly was a sponsored snowboarder, Stein a sponsored cyclist), the two owners have taken the drive and health-conscious attitudes of their active lifestyles and transferred these qualities to success in their new roles as fishmongers.
While Byerly focuses on the wholesale and sourcing aspects, Stein lends his marketing acumen to the retail aspects of the operation.