Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A team of Missoula developers are planning a commercial building off Mullan Road that will include a bar and fine-dining restaurant once it opens.

They're also seeking a permit to operate a tavern and casino on the site, saying the latter is needed to help cover rising construction costs and that of the beverage license. The Missoula City Council will consider the permit later this week.

City planner Lauren Stevens said the larger Mullan Crossing development was approved by the City Council several years ago and will include three buildings. A four-suite office building has already been built and the restaurant is set to undergo construction.

The property is currently designated for high intensity commercial and residential uses and was annexed into the city in 2020.

“The goal of the development – they wanted to provide a diverse number of experiences for the neighborhood,” said Jeff Crouch with Paradigm 3 Architecture. “Think of this as date night on a Friday with your husband or wife on the west side and you want a nice place to eat. Wine will play a big part of it, not just in the labeling of the restaurant but in the fine dining as well.”

The proposed project will include around 13,000 square feet with a kitchen and tasting room in the basement. The main floor will include the restaurant and tavern, with the casino set aside in a separate area.

It will also include a smaller bar on the second floor and a small shop on the main floor.

An interior rendering of the project.
An interior rendering of the project.

“It's intended to be place where maybe a wine that's on the fine dining menu is sold along with some grab-and-go foods for someone who doesn't want to go out that night,” said Crouch of the shop.

The applicants include John Sargent and James Jones, who have been in the restaurant business in Missoula for the past two decades. They said the infrastructure is now in place and development can begin as soon as they received a building permit.

“We're designing this as a spot we'd love to go and take our families to,” said Jones. “It's the type of venue where we think we're going to check all the boxes with. Wine is the basis here. There will be spirits involved, but it's basically a wine and beer place.”

The restaurant menu will include American Bistro and a pizza oven, they said. The bar will include a basic bar menu.

To fulfill the project, the team needs a conditional use permit from the city to operate the tavern and casino. The City Council will consider the request on Wednesday, though the city development staff have already said the project checks all the required boxes for approval.

“It's a way we can supplement our income,” said James. “Paying as much as we did for the license, you kind of have to have the casino. I think we've come up with a pretty nice plan.”