Dram Shop gets unanimous City Council approval for Midtown Missoula taproom

An architect’s rendering of the new Dram Shop at 2700 Paxson St. (Missoula Redevelopment Agency)

All systems are officially “go” for the Dram Shop’s second Missoula location, this one in Midtown, just across from Southgate Mall.

City Council members gave the 92-seat growler refill station and taproom their seal of approval – and the required tavern conditional use permit – at their regular meeting Monday night.

The approval applies only to the 2,500 square feet the Dram Shop will occupy in the 11,716-square-foot, eight-suite building at 2700 Paxson St. The use cannot be transferred.

Councilors also gave owner Zach Millar their thanks for locating his second tavern in Midtown, which is in the midst of a rejuvenation that began with the expansion of Southgate Mall, the completion of Mary Avenue and a host of new construction and planned improvements on South Brooks.

“There is a lot of great energy happening in Midtown Missoula these days and the addition of your business will add to that,” said Ward 4 Councilman John DiBari.

“Thank you,” added Ward 1 Councilman Bryan Von Lossberg, who said he enjoys the Dram Shop’s original location on Front Street in downtown Missoula – as does his child, who likes the play area provided for patrons’ youngsters.

Ward 6 Councilwoman Michelle Cares said she was originally worried when she heard of the proposal, not being familiar with the Dram Shop. Her children attend a day care that is only a few blocks away.

Then she did some research and learned more about the downtown location’s success and family friendly atmosphere, and was happy to give her support to the request Monday night.

The lesson for her, Cares said: “You shouldn’t always be so suspicious.”

Millar and his wife, Sarah, opened their downtown tavern in 2015, and were the state’s first standalone growler retailer. By 2018, the Dram Shop had 40 taps providing a large variety of craft beers, as well as a selection of hard ciders, wine and kombucha.

The cask beer selection rotates to a different local brewery each week, and it highlights a different style of beer each month.

And yes, there’s food – a limited selection provided by the Dram Shop’s neighbors, Pearl Café and the Market on Front.

The new location on Paxson Street will feature a large outdoor patio and roomier digs than the relatively small downtown tavern.

Here’s how the Millars described the new shop in their application to the city:

“We envision a family friendly gathering place that will have little to no negative impact on the surroundings. The hours of operation for the Dram Shop – initially noon to 10 P.M. daily — will be neatly in sync with nearby businesses.

“We will offer a service and experience that is complementary to our retail neighbors by increasing foot traffic along the Paxson corridor and in and around the Southgate Shopping Mall. Our offerings and wares will complement our neighboring commercial venues. The renovated environment is specifically designed to be clean, comfortable, relaxed, safe and family friendly. Our establishment will be a long-term showcase for the local and regional artisan beer and wine industry in Missoula. In this way, we seek to contribute to the social, arts and commercial vitality in our thriving central business community.”