Old Post set to reopen with new owner, complete remodel of 1920s setting

The old Old Post pictured in this 2014 watercolor sketch closed last October. But as soon as the City-County Health Department places its stamp of approval on the new business, the doors will reopen, launching a new chapter for the pub. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Nearly a year after closing, a popular downtown pub and restaurant plans to reopen in the coming weeks, shaking off its rustic past for a modern 21st century take, all tucked into its century-old setting.

Last October, a somber pall fell over The Old Post as patrons and staff bid farewell to the iconic downtown business. But as soon as the City-County Health Department places its stamp of approval on the new business, the doors will reopen, launching a new chapter for the pub.

“We ran into a brick wall with the health department, and we’ve just been throwing money at it trying to get it to pass muster,” said building owner Tim France. “We’re on the final leg with it right now. We should be ready for our final inspection this week. The minute the final inspection is done and we get the thumbs up, she’ll get that place open.

Business owner Kimberly Deschene, a household name in the local music scene, signed a lease on the building earlier this year. France said she plans to open the bar and restaurant under the Old Post banner.

But the remodel, which has been underway for months, will transform the formerly rustic business into something with a modern flare. France didn’t disclose the menu, saying only that it will include some new items as well as some old.

“It’s a far cooler, cleaner and more modern take on the old place,” France said. “It’s a gleaming example of what it was. I think people will embrace it. It’s beautiful. It’s probably going to be a little more jazz music. The owner is a jazz musician and knows all the cats in town, so it’ll be more music oriented.”

A large lunch crowd gathered at The Old Post last October to bid farewell to the old business. (Dave Stalling/Missoula Current)

Rumors have been whirling about what might replace the former Old Post after it closed on Oct. 31 last year. A post on Instagram suggested something new, and Sterling Commercial Real Estate hinted at a new Old Post opening last week.

France confirmed the new business on Monday, saying it would have opened sooner if not for issues with the health department inspection and retrofit.

“It’s a building built in 1920 and retrofitted for food services, so it’s not a perfect fit and the health department kind of demands a perfect world,” France said. “It turns out you trigger a whole different level of scrutiny if a business closes down and a new one comes in behind it. We basically had to rip it out and rebuild it.”

While the work was costly and painstaking, France said patrons should be pleased with the revival of the iconic business. The family will also be pleased to see some income return.

“We have been operating on half income since November,” France said. “We’re pretty excited to get something going so they can start paying rent and we can stop pouring money into it. It would have been a dead deal if we didn’t own the property.”