Big Sky could become home to Montana’s largest collection of whiskies from Japan
Blue Buddha Sushi does well catering to tourists in the lakeside town of Page, Ariz. Sun worshipers arrive onshore after house boating around Lake Powell hungry for fresh fish trucked in from Phoenix. The restaurant is owned by Troy Thompson, who grew up snowboarding in Colorado and is now expanding his collection restaurants into Big Sky.
Thompson—who goes by the nickname Twist—also runs a tapas bar and a gastropub in Page. He plans to open a Blue Buddha in the Plaza Lofts building and it will be his first foray into duplicating one of his establishments in a new location.
What exactly is Thompson going for, besides the chance to live close to the slopes?
“A Kung Fu dojo up in the mountains,” said Thompson, describing the look he envisions for Blue Buddha Sushi in Big Sky. “Rustic Japanese. We’ll leave the rafters open. We’re going to shoot for a lot of wood textures, a lot of stone textures.”
And he’s thinking of stocking the place with an impressive number of Japanese whiskies, hoping locals and tourists alike will linger in the space while sipping something like Yamazaki 12, which reportedly delivers a taste full of pear, apple, honeysuckle and light oak.
“Every place I’ve traveled there’s always a good sushi restaurant. And it’s a hub, a hang out,” said Thompson, whose market research includes dining at Dave’s Sushi in Bozeman. “Which is sweet. That’s right up my alley. My plan is to cater to the locals as much as I can.”
Thompson also looks forward to living locally in Big Sky. He considered a move to Steamboat Springs, but found that ski town to be too upscale.
Now, he and his wife Jaime plan to live within walking distance of the restaurant and Town Center. They also hope to enroll their daughter Echo in Ophir Elementary School.
When asked about the challenges ahead, Thompson said, “The number one thing would be housing—both for myself and from my staff. That’s what I hear from everyone up there. Getting good employees is really an issue.”
That’s why as Thompson plans to build a house—possibly in the South Fork development on Spruce Cone Drive—he’s thinking of adding an adjacent apartment that can house staff.
“I am just a mountain kid. I want to be up there making good food,” said Thompson, whose father always regretted not buying property early on in Vail when he had the chance. “So, I always told myself, if I have the opportunity, we’ll jump on it.”