Mexican eatery, second Bridge Pizza set to open this year as family expands business

Renovations taking place at 515 S. Higgins capture the attention of passersby. The project, a future brewery and Mexican eatery, is one of several restaurant plans involving Erin McEwan. A second Bridge Pizza is also planned for Midtown.  (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Nearly a year after announcing plans to open a Bridge Pizza in Midtown Missoula, construction of the new restaurant is moving along nicely.

Owner Erin McEwan said the new pizzeria – the second Bridge Pizza in Missoula – will likely open early next year.

“It’ll better serve that side of town and take some pressure off this business,” said McEwan, standing in the existing Bridge Pizza on the Hip Strip. “The brand is good, absolutely.”

McEwan announced the company’s plans last September to expand from its downtown location to a building formerly occupied by Tower Pizza, located at 3000 Brooks Street.

At the time, the project was valued at $809,000.

The future pizzeria sits directly across from the new entrance to Southgate Mall, which is undergoing its own $75 million renovation. Much of the Brooks Street corridor is also slated for redevelopment in the coming years, and it remains the subject of several city plans.

McEwan said the mall’s renovation and the city’s plans for the corridor prompted her to purchase the property and expand her business. She feels confident in the district’s future.

“What’s happening at the mall is definitely a reason to feel more comfortable moving onto Brooks Street,” she told the Missoula Current last year.

On Monday, as McEwan ducked into Bridge Pizza on Higgins Avenue, work on a separate planned restaurant and brewery at 515 S. Higgins went on.

That project represents a family partnership.

“I will be the front-of-house owner of that building, but it’s not affiliated with Bridge Pizza,” McEwan said. “It’s a brewery that will be manufacturing beer. In the front, we’ll be serving that beer along with other beer and wine, and we’ll have a small menu that focuses on Mexican street food.”

The building, former home to the Crystal Theater and Silk Road restaurant, has undergone something of a transformation over the past few months. Signage for “Gild” Brewing has replaced “Crystal” atop the structure, and crews are finishing up the interior remodel.

“We talked about it forever and all mentioned that building,” McEwan said. “When it became available, we decided to go for it.”