Baking and breaking bread
Finding the right recipe for life and restaurant success
Chris Rouse good naturedly razzes local customers as well as his coworkers at Blue Moon Bakery. As the bakery’s general manager, it doesn’t hurt that he knows many Big Sky residents. He spent almost a decade in the community helping create structure for restaurants at Big Sky Resort before returning to his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota.
Life led Rouse back to the mountains this winter. He always – stress on always – tries to make the best out of any situation: the eternal optimist with a dose of logic mixed in.
Charisma is a beautiful thing in action and Rouse definitely has it – with an energy and vitality uncommon in a position which demands constant interaction with the public. The sociology and philosophy major makes fast friends with nearly everyone.
Unlike most people with his major, he dodged law school – very intentionally.
A renegade with a peculiar approach to people in the best kind of way: Rouse is the perfect guy to motivate and guide – all the while maintaining a smile. His is a specific and unique blend of the qualities and traits found in true leaders; innovators; the people who can and do shape our world.
Rouse may, in fact, be the perfect combination of his parent’s personalities: his agreeable mother – hippie, gentle and kind in her life approach and his entrepreneur father – with a laser-sharp focus and determination to make things better.
“So, your parents are basically Dharma and Greg?” I asked. “You could say that,” he replied. “But my mom is hippie in the pure sense.”
Rouse remembers as a kid hearing about a business in Duluth shutting down. “Good,” he told his father. “We didn’t like that business anyway.”
His father corrected him by explaining that the loss was actually a big deal to the city. Those tax dollars from that business helped maintain necessary infrastructure, he was informed. It was a business lesson Rouse never forgot.
Rouse learned some of his people skills from his grandfather. One friend sought him out to tell him how much Rouse’s grandfather impacted his life. Grandpa Potvein, his grandfather on his mother’s side, always sat people down and asked three questions in a specific order: How is your family? How is work? How are you?
“When you ask those questions in that order – be prepared,” Rouse said. The flood gates open and people reveal the inner workings of their minds and hearts. He believes it’s important to have that kind of connection – to really be there for friends and family.
The Rouse children never stopped working as kids. Weekends were spent cleaning the garage, working on cars, doing yardwork. Their father demanded it. He wanted his children to have a solid work ethic.
He’s currently knee-deep in a business plan for his own restaurant in Minnesota and acquiring knowledge and capitol to make it happen. His eyes light up and he speaks expressively with his hands as he describes the branding and location. In keeping with the area and with the types of restaurants he most enjoys, he wants it to be nostalgic and Americana in flavor. He wants his establishment to have character – soul.
For now, you can find Rouse boiling bagels and making bread – joking with coworkers and high-fiving Blue Moon Bakery customers – while dreaming of his own restaurant and pondering how he will go about achieving his goal.