As one of Billings' oldest clubs, the Petroleum Club is well-known. Its marquee high-floor location, custom built when the Sheraton Hotel was first constructed in 1981, is legendary. What is not widely known, however, is the three women who now make the Petroleum Club tick. Meet Executive Chef Caroline Replogle, Executive Administrator Megan Mizelle, and Events and Sales Manager Amy Bridgeford. The latter two women have been with the Club for the past 4 years, while Chef Caroline is only a few weeks in. All 3 have intriguing stories and bring unique value to their respective positions.
Amy Bridgeford is originally from Lewistown. Her primary role is to coordinate all events at the Petroleum Club. Currently, the Club has between 150 and 200 events, both public and private. In the short-term, Amy wants to learn more about marketing and help the Club continue to grow. Her goals are to increase the number and quality of member-only events, including off-site events, thereby improving the value of a membership at the Club. She is also interested to explore starting a networking, leadership, and mentoring group for Petroleum Club members that meets regularly at the Club. In the long term, Amy would like to get into the event business, and hopefully own her own venue. Amy's spare time is devoted to the outdoors: hiking, fishing, and her passion for horses. Her favorite place in Billings (apart from the Petroleum Club!) is Norm's Island, a lovely trail along the Yellowstone River where she can walk her dogs off leash in peace and quiet. Her favorite drink at the Petroleum Club is her special Manhattan; if you get to know her, and are a little bit lucky, she just might slip behind the bar and whip one up for you.
Megan Mizelle moved to Billings in 2016 from Sheridan, Wyoming. She started working in events at the Petroleum Club, then moved to wait staff and eventually to the office. Now she is effectively running the Petroleum Club while going to school to be a funeral director. Megan's favorite thing about the Petroleum Club is the community: the staff and the members get to know each other. While most dining establishments have regulars, practically everyone who eats at the Petroleum Club would qualify as a regular anywhere else. Handled well, this allows for a superior depth of relationship and much better service.
Megan helped lead the current management team as the stepped up during the difficulties of 2020, when there was a real risk that the Club might fail. Instead, everyone pulled together. Megan says, "Now the Club is doing better than it has in a very long time. We were forced to step back and really assess things, the things that get overlooked when it's business as usual." Megan's goal now is to really take the Petroleum Club to the next level, to make it the "It" place in Billings - the place you want to propose to your girlfriend, among other things. Like Amy, she is eager to facilitate new and unique special events for the members.
Megan was recently accepted to the Pennsylvania Institute of Mortuary Science; when she graduates in 2 years, she wants to open her own funeral home. In the long term, she wants to get elected to the office of County Coroner. This goal would entail a move, as Yellowstone County has no such office, instead circulating the duty among the County's various morticians. Megan plans to bring a unique angle to the business of funeral arrangements. "Funerals have been done the same way for 150 years - it's boring." One of her ideas to shake up the industry is offering all-natural burial services - no embalming, and natural boxes instead of synthetic coffins. She is excited to bring a female perspective to the industry, as traditionally in many cultures, women were the ones who cared for the deceased.
Megan's favorite place in Billings is Last Chance Cider Mill. She especially likes the tasting flights, but has a word of warning: "Watch out, because sweet drinks that are 9% alcohol sneak up on you." Her favorite drink at the Petroleum Club is the Avocado Martini.
The Petroleum Club's newest employee is also arguably the most important: Executive Chef Caroline Replogle. Caroline brings a broad and diverse range of experience to the job, and a welcome revamp of the dining club's menu. She was born in Dallas but grew up in Billings. After high school, she went to the University of Montana, where she left without a degree but with 3 years of education in finance and economics. For the past 10 years, she has worked at Lilac, Walker's, and Ten at the Northern Hotel. While this is her first role as head chef, Caroline feels well-prepared by the dedicated and talented teams she worked with at those establishments. Her favorite place in Billings is the King's Hat, a local fast food place on the South Side, actually visible from the Petroleum Club. In her spare time, Caroline likes to play with her cat and read science fiction from the '50s and 60s - Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, and, of course, Isaac Asimov.
Caroline's favorite dishes to prepare are dumplings and crepes. Paradoxically, she says she can't make a good pancake. I personally am looking forward to the dumpling tasting menu she says is in the works. Chef Caroline says to look for more unique tasting menus to come: "I want to expose people to things they otherwise might not encounter in Billings." Her ultimate goal? "To elevate the food to the level that the members desire and deserve."