|Who knew this young lad would grow up to create the best bar in Helena?
Nickels opened in 1997, and Bob Gilbert had a plan to make it the best bar and gaming room in Helena with a unique atmosphere.
Bob has been a collector for over thirty years, with an extensive array of Lionstone Whiskey bottles plus an extraordinary sampling of antique slot machines. Some of the machines were in operation from 1947 to 1952 in Miles City, Butte and Anaconda. During that time, Montana saloons had slot machines and the state actually licensed those machines as evidenced by the permits on Gilbert's slot machines on display. In 1952, Arnold Olsen was elected Attorney General and he disliked gambling and put an end to legal slots in Montana. Bob worked with several State Legislators to make the public display of historic slot-machines legal in Montana.
Some of our customers call Nickels a museum because of our historic back-bar, the commemorative rifles on display, the antique slot machines, the collection of Lionstone and Jim Beam bottles and other bar related Memorabilia.
Our back bar is something unique. It came from the east shipped on a steam boat in the spring of the year to Fort Benton, then on wagons hauled to a bar in Belt, Montana. Charlie Russell who was known to like a beer now and again surely sat in front of this glass. The bar spent considerable time in storage during prohibition and then was moved to two bars in Great Falls. The last place in Great Falls was the Town Tavern, owned by Gene Mortensen now of Helena. Gene wanted to ensure that the bar didn't go to some rich persons mansion and Gilbert promised to display it for the public to enjoy. Louie LaFloe did all the refurbishing and it is a great piece of craftsmanship.
Scattered throughout the bar are life sized replicas of the Blues Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, Al Capone and many others. Be sure to check out the pictures of the Blues Brothers behind their spot on the band stand. We also have a Vegas show girl twirling on her stage to add the flavor of beautiful show girls.