In the late 1800s, a German immigrant moved to the Great Falls area, before Montana was even considered a state, and built a furniture store that is now off of Central Avenue in downtown Great Falls.

The building remained this way until the 1960s when the family owned business was sold.  

After that, the building went through a series of transformations, including an adult film theater.  

Today, that same building is once again in the hands of a German immigrant by the name of Matthias Schalper and his wife Jolene Schalper.

The couple was looking for a new adventure and saw a building in downtown Great Falls was for sale.

After the price dropped to a number they couldn’t refuse, they purchased the property.

At the time of their purchase, they weren’t quite sure what they were going to do with the building. It was all part of the adventure.

However, it wasn’t too long before the Kellergeist was born.

The name,”Kellergeist,” is German for, ‘ghost in the basement,’ or, ‘spirits in the cellar’.

Rumor has it that the basement of the building is haunted by a number of ghosts, and seeing that they wanted to sell drinks (spirits), the name seemed fitting.

Their original plan was to build and renovate everything in one phase.

However, just like anything else, not everything goes according to plan.

 “We literally had planned to do everything in one phase and had it done by last summer. And now, we just finished the first phase. I reckon we can see the next phase, which means we build out the rest of the ground floor, by late summer next year,” explained Matthias Schalper, Co-owner of the Kellergeist.

In order to transfer a liquor license, it’s required that you have a bar ready for inspection.

As a result, Jolene and Matthias built a mini-bar and decided to go with a five phase plan instead; allowing them to open their doors sooner rather than later.

Matthias further explained that the mini-bar they have now will most likely be demolished during a later phase and created into a lobby area for guests.

Looking forward, Matthias explains that the project will be continuing for about five years; each year bringing a new addition to the Kellergiest.

Their goal is to eventually have a pub theater, showing classic movies and serving authentic German drinks and food.

As their slogan says, ”Always Entertaining,” Jolene and Matthias hope to not only bring a little more culture to the Great Falls community, but a breath of fresh life to a century old building.

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