(KPAX) The Top Hat is set to reopen, but this won’t be the first time the legendary establishment returns after a hiatus.
Most recently a renovation in 2013 changed up the aesthetics to the downtown bar and venue.
It’s now set to reopen again after a “remodel” of sorts, completed in an attempt to protect customers, staff and community from the spread of COVID-19. So while the disease still is actively spreading in other areas of the world, what prompted the Missoula mainstay to open its doors?
“Montana is probably the only state in the United States to reach all four of the criteria that Johns Hopkins lays out as a responsible community time to open,” Top Hat owner Nick Checota said. “Given that we meet all those criteria from an institution like Johns Hopkins who is generally viewed as kind of the premier infectious diseases institution, I got comfortable.”
While other states reopen to questions of timing, health officials and Checota think Montana is ready to go.
“Our governor took action early, took it decisively and he put us in a position where we are now in a position to open where I would argue states like Georgia shouldn’t be opening but Montana should be. And I hope our customers and our community understand the differences and I think they do,” Checota said.
“We aren’t seeing increases in cases. We have had seven days in a row with zero cases in Missoula County. That’s what you have to see to be prepared to open and we have seen that.”
Checota also said the local health department deserves recognition for its work and collaboration with businesses on reopening.
“I think they have done a fantastic job and they have involved businesses and they have asked for input. They have worked collaboratively with us and I couldn’t ask for more,” Checota said.
So far the Top Hat is operating using all requirements and recommendations on top of doing some things on its own accord to keep everyone as safe as possible.
“We are taking a tremendous amount of caution to create a safe environment for our customers and our staff,” Checota said.