Tavern with “modern Mexican” planned for old Crystal Theater

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

The Hip Strip may get hipper if the City Council approves a family’s request to open a tavern serving modern Mexican food with beer and wine at the old Crystal Theater in downtown Missoula.

The application, submitted by Gild LLC, was heard Wednesday by the Land Use and Planning Committee and will be considered at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“Our plan is to do modern Mexican food,” said Erin McEwan. “It will not be full service in that someone comes to your table. It will be more order at the counter, or at the bar, and your food will be brought out to you. But it will be a full menu, and our hope is that the demand will be great enough that we’ll serve food all hours that we’re open.”

McEwen, a partner in the project with her husband and parents, said the tavern will occupy the front of the building on three floors. The upper floor will house the kitchen with additional seating and a stage for live entertainment.

Constructed in 1910, the building has served a number of occupants in recent years, including the Silk Road and the Crystal Theater. As proposed, Gild LLC will occupy roughly half of the structure while a micro-brew is proposed for the back half.

McEwan said Gild LLC will not own or operate the proposed brewery.

“Think of us as a restaurant that needs a tavern license that serves beer and wine,” she said.

The project has the support of the ward’s City Council representatives, as well as the Missoula Downtown Association.

“We’ve seen the Hip Strip come alive over the course of the last 15 years,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of MDA. “This is just another great project that will be very successful.”

The City Council will consider the request on Feb. 6.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com