NORM'S SODA FOUNTAIN
Come on in and have an ice-cold fountain soda paired with a hot, juicy hamburger. Read one of the 1,000 magazine titles while you wait. Afterward, treat yourself to a sundae and take home a selection of the 800 available varieties of candy.
34 Main Street
Mon - Sat: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm Sun: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
"Norm's Soda Fountain: Eat Dessert First."
Norm’s News has been a cornerstone of downtown Kalispell for nearly 80 years. The business has grown and changed with the times—it has been a pool hall, diner, candy shop, and more—but has always been a dependable gathering place for locals and visitors.
In its modern iteration, Norm’s sells sweets, magazines, and classic diner fare. Stepping into the restaurant is like stepping back into the cheery 1950s, with rows of candy and magazines lining the wall, retro furniture, and a menu that reads “Norm’s Soda Fountain: Eat Dessert First.”
Owner Beth Pirrie cares about the business’ roots, and though she adapts to meet modern customers’ needs, she knows that tradition is what makes Norm’s special.
When Norm Schappaeker purchased the building-then called the John McIntosh Opera House Square-in 1938, it was already 42 years old and had served the community as a ballroom, theater, and roller skating rink. After a successful run under Norm’s leadership, Bill and Pat Shields bought the store in 1967. In 1989 Beth’s father-in-law, Gordon Pirrie, took the helm.
Gordon oversaw Norm’s for nearly two decades before he considered passing the legacy on. His family loved spending their childhood at Norm’s and hoped the tradition would continue for their own kids, but Beth's husband had his hands full next door running western retailer Western Outdoor. So Beth, a flautist who plays in the Glacier Symphony & Chorale, decided to try her hand at running the restaurant.
“We’re the third family to own Norm’s,” Beth said. “We take pride in that, it makes it special. Norm’s is part of our family, a member of our family.”
Longtime employees continue to see no reason to leave, while the diner also offers local teens looking for their first job a chance at reliable employment.
“It’s a great community and the community itself is so educated on the local dollar,” Beth said. “They are willing to support local businesses—that's what's good about doing business here.”
Beth says that she has noticed a change downtown, “in a positive direction,” and is excited to see how Kalispell grows in the future. However the town changes, though, she hopes that Norm’s will always be a time capsule.
“We hope to continue the tradition of what we have, we’re tradition oriented,” she said. “People keep coming back for the same thing.”