Two Montanans were cast into the national spotlight Friday when two federal lawmakers honored a famed Great Falls piano player and a Fort Benton coffee shop owner for making differences in their communities.
Patricia Spoonheim, better known as “Piano Pat,” was honored by Rep. Greg Gianforte with his Spirit of Montana award for “entertaining countless patrons from Montana and across the globe at the Sip ‘n Dip Lounge since 1963.”
The iconic Tiki bar at the O’Haire Motor Inn with an international reputation as a fun place to visit that allows people to view mermaids swimming by.
The award is a weekly recognition of Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gianforte, R-Mont., provides a statement about the recipient for the Congressional Record and contacts the honoree.
“Patricia Spoonheim, better known as Piano Pat, began playing keyboards at the Sip ‘n’ Dip Lounge in Great Falls in 1963. Travel publications acclaim the Sip ‘n Dip as a “must see” in Montana, and Piano Pat is one of the reasons,” Gianforte said.
He added she began playing professionally at 14 and during harsh winters her mother would drive her over 80 miles roundtrip for piano lessons.
Spoonheim worked many jobs and played several nights a week to support her family. Now into her 80s, Piano Pat still enjoys what she does and continues to work nights at the Sip ‘n’ Dip.
Television networks and national publications have profiled Piano Pat. A cable television channel recently featured her to represent Montana in a series titled “Her America: 50 Women, 50 States,” Gianforte said.
“Her music and spirit have entertained countless Montanans and visitors from across the globe. It is my honor to recognize Patricia Spoonheim for entertaining patrons of the Sip ‘n’ Dip and for representing our Montana way of life,” he said.
Gianforte encourages people to nominate Montanans for the Spirit of Montana award by contacting his office at 202-225-3211 or by email at https://gianforte.house.gov/contact/email.
In a related action, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., honored Amanda Bedford for her positive impact on the Chouteau County community as the owner of the Wake Cup Coffee House in Fort Benton.
He said she grew up on her parents’ farm between Fort Benton and Highwood. When she was 20, and with the support of her parents, she opened her coffee shop.
“Fourteen years later, the business has seen tremendous success and growth under Amanda’s leadership,” Daines read into the Congressional Record.
Daines noted the shop has expanded greatly and is now in its third location. Her sister and brother-in-law are now part owners.
“Amanda remains focused on providing the community with a place to gather with family and friends,” Daines said. “As Amanda says, every small town needs a coffee shop. She’s proud to be that staple for the Fort Benton community.”