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Anaconda restaurant gutted by fire reopens with total remodel

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Donivan's Exterior

Dale and Amy Strommen recently remodeled the 30-year-old Donivan's restaurant after it was damaged by fire last year and hit by a car. The new exterior was designed by Dale Strommen's brother in law, Steve Hamell, who also designed the interior.   

After the Club Moderne bar in downtown Anaconda was gutted by fire earlier this month, another Smelter City mainstay is rising from the ashes.

Amy and Dale Strommen – owners of Donivan’s – had their own devastating experience with fire in June 2015 when flame began erupting from the back of the building outside.

The cause of the fire was a leaking gas meter, Dale Strommen said, and the building sustained water and smoke damage throughout.

To make matters worse, a car crashed into the front of the building weeks later, destroying the exterior.

At that point, instead of shutting down the business entirely the Strommens decided to do a complete remodel.

Strommen said it’s taken over a year to do the revamp and negotiate with insurance companies.

However, after a lot of sweat and manpower, he said, Donivan's should be open in about a month.

Donivan’s has been a mainstay in Anaconda since the 1980s. It was started by Strommen’s mother, Marilyn Strommen, in 1985 and is named after her father Donivan.

Strommen said his mother began her career in the culinary industry as a teenager, when she went to work at a restaurant near Warm Springs.

“She started cooking there when she was 16 years old,” said Strommen. “To help her family out. They didn’t have a lot. A lot of the kids, her sisters and stuff, all had to go to work.”

Marilyn went on to work at restaurants throughout Montana, and eventually became a sous chef at French restaurant in Utah.

Marilyn eventually moved back to her hometown Anaconda and started Donivan’s with two of her brothers, whom she later bought out.

While the name at Donivan’s is the same, Anaconda residents will find that much has changed inside and out in the 30-year-old restaurant.

The Strommens purchased the building next door to expand and added a bar that boasts a 48-person capacity and includes 20 gaming machines, flat screens for watching sports and a large gas fireplace with a mantel decorated with an industrial ladle used for pouring molten copper, true to Anaconda’s history as a smelting town.

Strommen said the bar will also feature 14 beers on tap (with an emphasis on Montana microbrews), a rotating wine selection and spirits and cocktails from Montana distilleries, including from Headframe Sprits.

The exterior, meanwhile, also has an industrial look and features black panels, two patios for outdoor seating and large renderings of historic photographs, including one of Marcus Daly.

The craftsman behind Donivan's revamp is Strommen’s brother-in-law Steve Hamell, whom Strommen described as a “talented artist” and “master carpenter.”

“He brings a very great artistic flair to what he does, and it really shows in his work,” said Strommen.

According to Strommen, Hamell has an art degree from the University of Montana and began his carpentry career with a Butte construction company. He later moved to Arizona, where he now builds custom homes with his brother’s company, Axiom Development Group.

Strommen said it took a lot of persuasion to get his brother to do the new Donivan’s design, but that in the end he lucked out.

“I begged and pleaded for him; I sent him photos nonstop to get him to come up here,” he said. “He gave in and came up, and I was able to talk him into doing this and it’s been amazing.”

Donivan's new dining room, meanwhile, is a far cry from the papered walls and carpeted floors it had before.

Today guests will be greeted by wood floors, brick walls and copper-colored ceiling tiles. The 116-capacity room also boasts shiny, brick-red upholstered booths, each is adorned with large black-and-white prints of historic Anaconda photographs.

However, the look and feel of Donivan’s isn’t the only thing that’s changing at the Park Avenue restaurant.

Strommen said guests will be greeted by an expanded menu with more options for appetizers, lunch and dinner. Items on the menu will include traditional favorites like broasted chicken, but also street tacos, fajitas, pasta, salads and seafood.

All-in-all, Donivan’s revamp reads like a love letter to Anaconda.

And in keeping with the Anaconda theme, Strommen said his family revamped the restaurant with economic development in mind.

“We’ve kind of gone a little above and beyond,” said Strommen, noting that the family chose to remodel the entire restaurant rather than just make repairs. “We’re trying to add to the downtown area of Anaconda and hoping to become a destination that could bring more people.”

Indeed – Donivan's is hard to miss on Park Avenue with its newly crafted exterior, red doors and golden sign.

“We’re hoping that people come to see it,” he said.

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