It wasn’t like Harvey Singh didn’t already have enough to do.
Sometime this spring, Singh hopes to add one more venture to the mix: a restaurant in downtown Billings that will serve “global appetizers,” along with an array of imported beers and wines.
The new restaurant will be called Seva (pronounced Say-va,) a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service,” and it will be in the former Broadway Deli and Café at 313 N. Broadway.
Singh, who is originally from California and says the two things he misses most from there are the music and the food, wanted to open an Indian restaurant in Billings, but once he teamed up with Schuyler Budde, who will manage Seva, they decided to go beyond that idea.
“We started talking about doing something completely different,” Budde said, ending up with the concept of serving “all the best street food from all over the world.”
They have also hired a chef, Josh Cannon, who has worked at the West End Jake’s, Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky, a restaurant in Virginia City and at Commons 1882 in Billings. Budde has worked in restaurant management on and off for 20 years, including a stint at the Rex and Commons 1882, where he worked with Cannon.
Dishes will include samosas—a fried potato dish resembling an empanada—Vietnamese Bahn mi sandwiches and their own take on orange chicken. In fact, Cannon said, the idea of customizing international dishes, rather than trying to be completely authentic, will be a guiding principle.
“It’s going to be our spin and what we think it should be,” he said.
The menu already has 30 to 35 items, including desserts, but everything will be served individually, tapas-style, on small, medium and large plates.
“There’s enough for everybody to find pretty much anything,” Cannon promised.
And Singh said the menu will not be static.
“We’re already looking at what’s going to be on menu No. 2,” Budde said.
The old Broadway Deli, which closed in August, has been gutted for a complete remodel. The biggest change was removing the wall that separated the café from the office of Billie Ruff’s travel agency, Travel Café, which predated Broadway Deli.
That will make the main restaurant much larger, with room for about 75 people. There will be room for another couple of dozen people on the sidewalk patio out front and another patio tucked in back, between the café and the US Bank building, to which the café is partly attached.
Budde said they will be serving a wide variety of wines and beers. There are so many craft breweries in Billings now, and so many restaurants serving local beers, Budde said, that Seva’s emphasis will be on beers new to Billings, in bottles and on tap. Eventually, he said, they’ll probably add some local taps to the selection.
Seva will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 11 on Saturday and closed on Sunday. They hope to offer live music, probably on the front patio or just inside the doors to the patio, and sometimes on the back patio.
Singh said that after he graduated from high school in California’s San Fernando Valley, he went to school for a while and then got a job in a recording studio, working his way up to engineer.
“You made 50 bucks an hour, but you had no life,” he said.
After a few years of that, his brother, who was working for a roofing contractor in Montana and North Dakota, talked Singh into joining him, and Singh got here just after the big Father’s Day tornado in 2010, a booming time for roofers. A year after he started Singh Contracting in 2013, there was a big hailstorm, resulting in another banner year for the roofing business.
Singh said he gave some money to charitable causes and decided to take the rest of the profits and do something new. Or, as he put it, “we just opened more doors and diversified.”
Outward Media Group started after he teamed up with Adams to produce some video ads for the contracting business. They amassed so much high-quality equipment that they decided to form their own marketing business, and they’ve since added Bryce Turcotte and Karen Rose to the payroll.
Singh Contracting also expanded a bit, into siding and gutters, and it might get into remodels and new construction, too, Singh said. In the meantime, with the restaurant in mind, he bought the building that housed the Broadway Deli, and he’s using the second floor for OMG, with one office reserved for Singh Contracting.
They had originally hoped to open Seva in March, but the inevitable complications of remodeling an older building have pushed that date back. Now they’re shooting for sometime this spring, without even trying to estimate the actual date.
Budde said they don’t want to rush into things and want to make sure the building is ready and the staff is fully trained. So Seva will open, he said, the day after everything is absolutely ready to go.