Dave Fink had a vision. After visiting the Shoshone Bar off and on over the years while working for the National Guard and the Dept. of Defense, he wondered what it would be like to own the business.
Growing up in Billings, he had family ties to Lovell, where his father, Fred, grew up.
“I started coming to Lovell for drill in 1986,” Fink said. “Everyone migrated to the Shoshone Bar. It was the place to go, the place to hang out.”
Fink moved to Lovell in 2010 when he became the motor sergeant at FMS 1, running the maintenance department. At that time, Bill and Dane Davis owned the Shoshone. He started forming an idea.
“Over the years it had fallen into disrepair,” Fink said. “I had a vision in my head: if this was mine, this is what I would do. This place needed a lot of love. And they wanted to go back to Three Forks.”
Fink bought the bar on Aug. 11, 2012, and immediately closed it.
“I shut it down and started to work on my vision, and with the help of a lot of good friends and family we started tearing it down,” he said. “We probably took 20 to 30 trailer loads out of this place.”
Fink and friends took up three layers of flooring down to the original tongue and groove floor. And while the floor was open, workers replaced all of the plumbing.
“The electrical was scary, too,” he said. “What was under the floor was all removed. We went through three or four electricians before we found somebody to commit to coming in here and doing the job.”
Eventually, he hired Shane Kannard of Action Electric to do the work, replacing all of the electric infrastructure. Meanwhile, Fink asked Rocky Mountain Power to move a power pole behind the building so he could build a patio for the summer.
Fink remodeled the inside of the bar, taking walls down and putting in brand new restrooms as well as a new walk-in cooler. He also put in a new efficient furnace with new duct work and new tongue and groove wall covering. He also rebuilt and lengthened the actual bar.
The historic mural pained by Mitchial Lange of Byron remains.
Fink closed the bar for renovation the day he bought it and reopened on Dec. 26, 2012.
“I wanted to turn this place around,” Fink said. “I wanted a nice, clean, friendly place. I don’t like drama; I don’t want drama.”
The “Shosh” offers four beers on tap: Coors Light, Bud Light, Blue Moon and, currently, Widmer, with the fourth changing from time to time.
“We pretty much stock everything and try not to run out,” he said. “Pretty much every Saturday night we have karaoke or a DJ. On Monday we have Texas Hold Em Poker, and we watch football and NASCAR on Sundays.”
“I think this community needed this bar,” he said. “I built it to my standards – a clean, decent environment, a place to hang out with friends and have a good time with no worries. But the first week I said, ‘What did I get myself into?’”
Then there’s the famous ghost. It is said that the Shoshone is the most haunted bar in Wyoming, with the presence of the murdered candy salesman Ted Louis lurking on the premises.
“I can feel his presence,” said Fink, who has spent a lot of late nights alone in the building during renovation. There are recent stories of a specials sign going flying more than once and of a bar chair spinning without being touched.
But the real story Dave Fink wants to tell is of how he has made his vision become a reality. And that all of the hard work has been worth it.
By David Peck