By: Nick Perkins
You walk through the door and, as your eyes begin to adjust the mid-afternoon darkness, the rest of the Frosty’s ‘regulars’ turn their heads to you and nod in acknowledgment.
At the corner of the bar is Tom, a newspaper journalist who is drinking away the fact the print media is a dying industry.
To his right is Lanny, an electrician, drinking his usual gin ‘n tonic. He smiles at you and shakes your hand.
There’s Connie, a teacher who wouldn’t make it through the school week without her Friday margarita to look forward to.
You scan the rest of the bar and see Tony, the chef at a local restaurant that you frequent. He owes you a meal for some work that you did on the side for him.
As you sit down at the bar, the bartender, without even asking, pours you an Old Fashioned. She knows this is the drink you always order so no questions are asked. You thank her, take that first drink and breathe a sigh of relief. You’re here. You’ve made it through the day, dealt with all of its headaches and now you get to relax with a drink and with your friends. These are your people. This is your bar.
Though Frosty’s Bar & Grill belongs to all of us, it is owned by Nancy Goddard, along with her daughter, granddaughter, and son. Goddard was the previous owner of the Sandbar in the Old Yellowstone District and she turned their fortunes around considerably before focusing her attention on Frosty’s.
Goddard has been in the business for years. It’s a part of her lifeblood and it is something that she has passed onto her daughter, as well her granddaughter. Morgan Morsett is the granddaughter of Nancy and she is also the current General Manager of Frosty’s. Previously, Morsett worked in retail and had gone to school to be a social worker. But the allure of working with her family in a place that she loved was too powerful to pass up.
“I had started [working] at The Sandbar, and I really enjoyed it there,” Morsett stated. “I liked the job. It was just a little, I got really kind of thrown into it. I started bartending and managing less than two months after my 21st birthday, so the bar lifestyle was completely new to me altogether.”
Morsett, knowing her limitations, stepped back from a managerial role for a time and focused on what she believed she was best at; namely, interacting with people. After Nancy bought Frosty’s, she made her granddaughter an offer that she couldn’t refuse.
“The manager left [Frosty’s] and my grandma was like ‘maybe you’ll like the feel of this place. It’s not quite as chaotic. It’s not as big, you’ve got a different clientele. Maybe you’ll fit in a little bit here.”
Frosty’s was everything one thinks of when they imagine a ‘dive bar.’ It was dark, smoky (up until the cigarette ban) and there was always laughter, always talking, always a good song on the jukebox.
“It’s a very Cheers-like feel here,” Morsett boasted. “Your bartender knows your name when you walk in the door. We know what your drink is. We know what time to expect you and on what days. It’s very family-oriented, I guess, in that our customers are all very close. Everyone’s friends, everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. It’s kind of like its own little community.”
That’s how Frosty’s has always been, even when it was just a package liquor store sharing office space with the neighboring Bushwell’s Sporting Goods store. There’s a picture of Frosty’s original owner, standing alongside his son-in-law. It’s a subtle reminder of the history of this bar and all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into keeping it open. Keeping it open and staying true to its core has been an interesting venture, especially because of all of the new establishments popping up in The District. But Nancy, Morgan and the rest of the Frosty’s staff have no intentions of closing down anytime soon. They also don’t plan on changing their essence to “fit in” with “modern bars.”
“It’s very original,” Morsett said. “It’s not modern, by any means. It’s got that ‘home’ feel to it. When I say ‘dive bar,’ I don’t mean that in a negative sense. We pride ourselves on being that cozy dive bar.”
The District needs a place like Frosty’s. Every town needs a place like Frosty’s. Other business owners in Downtown Casper knows this as well. In fact, one of the greatest things about The District is the camaraderie and support that every business has for each other.
“We all do really well communicating with fellow managers,” Morsett stated. “If we have a problematic person or somebody who’s just had too much to drink, and I overhear that person say ‘let’s go to The Office, or Gaslight or The Wonder Bar instead, since they’re not letting us continue to drink,’ I’ll shoot [the other bars] a call and let the other bartenders know that this person is already heading their way and, forewarning, they’re already intoxicated. We try to have a good rapport in that sense. The land between Center and Elm Street, as well as the land between 2nd Street and Midwest Avenue, is a sacred place. As more and more focus is given to Downtown Casper, it would be easy for businesses to work against each other in a cutthroat style to make sure their place is the best place. It’s not like that in The District. Each and every business works together and helps each other out. They all participate in events like the Art Walk or Third Thursday. They all support each other, and that’s why The District has been able to thrive.
“That’s always been one of my favorite parts about Casper, in general,” Morsett said. “It’s the sense of community that businesses can work together and not be pitted against each other. We’re all in this together. If any of us start failing, we’re gonna do what we can to help pick each other back up and keep the downtown feel alive and successful and prosperous.”
That attitude is shared by Jim and Karen Kanelos from The Office. It’s shared by Matt Galloway from the Gaslight Social. It’s shared by the owners of C85 Wonder Bar and Marcos Coal-Fired Pizza. Every business in the District has its own niche, its own clients and that’s why Downtown Casper is such a happening place every week. Everybody works together to give Casper the best possible experience. Having a drink at Frosty’s is certainly an experience. They serve food daily and it’s really good. Every week or so, they will feature local bands and musicians who have a song to sing or a story to tell. There are always stories at Frosty’s- you just have to listen for them.
“It’s a great place to come and have a conversation without all the hustle and bustle,” Morsett stated. “You don’t feel like you’re righting a crowd. It’s not overly-loud. You can get a good meal at a reasonable price. My bartenders, my staff, my kitchen staff- they’re all awesome and we all really take care of each other here.”
Morgan said Frosty’s is like a family. She would know, as most of her family works there. But it’s not just her grandmother and mom that she views as family. It’s Tom and Lanny and Tony and Connie. It’s the ‘regulars’ that she sees, without fail, every Friday night or Saturday afternoon. It’s you, too. When you walk into the door of Frosty’s, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time, you will be greeted like you were an old friend or a member of the family. That’s the great thing about this old-timey ‘Dive Bar.’ Every time you walk in, it feels like you’re coming home because, just like the song says, “Everybody knows your name.”