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Neighborhood surge New businesses invigorate Missoula’s Westside scene by Alex Sakariassen

Beer Drinkers’ Profile GAME ON

Brianna & Max

What brings you to the Iron Horse? It's nice here: beer, food we like, outside seating with shade–all before the softball game tonight. Any weaknesses in your game? Just listening too closely to the spectators. When they cheer it feels awesome; the groaning, not so good . . . Beers of choice? Double Bud Lights

New on Sat and Sun: Made-to-order guacamole, our special Sangria, and apple cheddar bloomin' bread! Something New Is Always Happening At The Horse

501 N. Higgins • 728-8866

[8] Missoula Independent • June 13 – June 20 , 2013

The city’s even moving toward improvOn a recent Friday afternoon Jared rush. Luedecke estimates Summer Sun’s Robinson busies himself stocking shelves at business declined by nearly 75 percent. “We ing the complicated intersection where Summer Sun Garden and Brew with bottled were definitely looking at other ways to Toole, Spruce and Scott Street meet. Conbeers from as far off as Scotland, Belgium round out our business and keep revenue struction of a mini urban roundabout—a and New Zealand. The next aisle over is coming in,” he says. “That’s when we started project estimated at around $164,500—is excrowded with boxes of wine ready to be un- thinking about the beer and wine, doing a pected to begin next month. Former Ward 2 Councilwoman Pam Walzer, who started packed. A line of seven coolers contains craft bottle shop basically.” The notion was part of what attracted working to address concerns about the inbrews from Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, Hawaii and every Montana brew- Luedecke to a storefront space where Spruce tersection when she was first elected in 2007, Street branches off from Toole Avenue, just says the roundabout is a long time coming. ery that bottles or cans its product. Some bottles have been separated from a few yards down the road from Draught That improvement, along with a burgeoning six packs in a separate bank of coolers, avail- Works Brewery. Summer Sun hosted its business scene along Spruce and Toole, furable as singles for just under $2. There’s grand opening there on Dec. 1, 2012. The thers some of the desires local residents exeven a cooler solely for hard ciders and store finally secured a grocer’s license this pressed more than a decade ago in the joint gluten-free beer options. Domestics like Bud spring and is already carrying a number of Northside/Westside Neighborhood Plan. “We’re finally moving toward what the Light are relegated to three bottom shelves natural foods. Robinson has been securing neighborhood plan has all next to a collection of imported been about,” Walzer says. macros. “Talking about small, local Robinson, the store’s brew businesses coming in and manager, claims it’s the biggest making it a more walkable retail craft beer selection in community. This is the fruition town. It’s been in the back of of all that had been hoped for.” several minds over at Summer Bob Oaks, executive diSun, even before the comrector of the North Missoula pany’s move to Missoula’s budCommunity Development ding Westside neighborhood Corporation, sees the new last fall. As Robinson puts it, storefronts as evidence that “This was our next big expan“people are taking advantage sion.” His words may as well of opportunities that exist in apply to store’s burgeoning the neighborhood, starting to Westside neighborhood, which see them and see them newly.” has been revitalized by the arOaks, a longtime advocate for rival of Draught Works, Freerevitalization of Missoula’s stone Climbing Gym, LB Snow photo by Cathrine L. Walters Northside and Westside neighand others, as well as Summer Summer Sun Garden and Brew owner Steve Luedecke borhoods, likens the scene unSun itself. relocated the shop to Missoula’s Westside last fall—a part folding near the Toole-Spruce Summer Sun has under- of town now teeming with new business. intersection to that which has gone an interesting evolution since 2008, when owner Steve Luedecke as many beer and wine labels as possible, played out at Burns Street Square, now partnered with Sabrina Smith to open The sometimes at the direct request of neighbors. home to the Missoula Community Food Co“There’s neighborhood people who op, Burns St. Bistro and NMCDC’s office. Green Light next to the Double Front Cafe “You see a lot more life around that area on Alder Street. What’s now Summer Sun have come in and said, ‘Can you carry this? was the gardening side of the eco-friendly This is the wine I like to drink, and I can’t than there used to be,” Oaks says, referring home furnishing store. The “green rush” that find it anymore,’” Luedecke says. “We’ve to the area around Draught Works. “You see took hold during Montana’s medical mari- been able to find some of those wines, a lot more life around the Bistro and the Cojuana boom in 2009 added to an increase in bring them in here and have them for the op than there used to be, too. That was a decrepit warehouse that was getting vandalized, overall demand for gardening supplies, neighborhood.” Summer Sun isn’t the only business stones thrown through the windows and Luedecke says. Business was good enough that Luedecke and Smith relocated the cloth- that’s been attracted to this single block of stuff. Now it’s hopping with activity.” Luedecke, himself a Westside resident, ing and housewares side of The Green Light Westside property. LB Snow, a ski and snowto the corner of Higgins and Broadway and board repair shop that specializes in crafting feels Summer Sun is filling a niche in his dedicated the Alder location exclusively to splitboards for backcountry snowboarding, neighborhood. So too are Draught Works, moved in around the corner on Toole last LB Snow, Freestone and others, he says. gardening and homebrewing supplies. “At the time, gardening was really ex- fall. Draught Works and the Freestone Climb- The Toole-Spruce intersection is just one ploding in Montana in general,” Luedecke ing Gym had already transformed the neigh- example of a community undergoing says. “I had no idea that was going to hap- borhood into a hip, bustling place in recent change in an improving economy. “It’s years, and renovations are currently under- growing, it’s changing, new businesses are pen, but we definitely reacted to it.” Luedecke and Smith split the business way in the space behind Summer Sun to ac- coming in,” Luedecke says. “I think neigha year later, and Summer Sun was born. commodate the newest neighbor: Warm borhoods go through cycles, and this is the Then, after the Montana Legislature passed Springs Productions, whose hit series upswing right here.” a strict medical marijuana reform bill in “Mountain Men” began its second season on spring 2011, the bottom fell out on the green the History Channel June 9.

Missoula Independent  
Missoula Independent  

Western Montana's weekly journal of people, politics and culture