It turned out there couldn't have been a worse target date for opening a new restaurant than March 20, 2020.

But that's the date Pangea Bar & Restaurant in Missoula had their calendar. A date that had been selected previously, but turned out to be the one when our lives were turned upside down that same month by COVID.

And even though Pangea, and Stave & Hoop, were able to open provisionally a few weeks later in May, there was little fanfare and a path on what the owners call "one of the most difficult and confusing times in the business world."

However, Pangea has prospered through the uphill battle and is finally ready for you to celebrate with them during a long-delayed "Grand Opening."

Facebook; Pangea
Facebook; Pangea

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A great, home-grown idea

Scott Billadeau, Chad Morgan, and Griz Hall-of-Famer Skyla Sisco were determined to use their Missoula and Montana connections, and what they had learned with the successful "Liquid Planet" brand. In 2019 Missoulian Kyle Riggs joined one of the only "Advanced Level 3 Sommeliers in Wine and Spirits in Montana."

Yet even with that talent, those first called for a lot of creativity and survival instincts, especially starting a new brand in an uphill fight to get customers. The owners tell me battles were won, mistakes were made, and lessons were learned."

Facebook; Pangea
Facebook; Pangea

Now, the next chapter

The Pangea Group is now ready for the next phase, which is also tough, given the rash of restaurant closures over the past year. However they "truly believe it's time to move the ship forward" and to "represent what Missoula deserves for the next 20 years."

So next week, that Grand Opening is Thursday, November 9th. And a major change with the addition of Chef Justin Ferguson, who becomes the new Director of Operations after a nationwide search. Ferguson has started successful restaurants in New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, doing everything from "Michelin restaurants to barbeque to Mexican."

Facebook; Pangea
Facebook; Pangea

That brings a new menu and other changes. Pangea will be dropping lunch service on November 5th to train staff and focus on the future, opening daily at 4 p.m. The popular Sunday brunch will return on November 19th at 10 a.m. Reservations will be recommended, but not required at their website.

And that's not all. Remember Red Robin?

While it's mainly been bad news for Missoula's restaurant scene this year, the owners have robust plans.

Pangea will also feature a full catering division with food and cocktails. Additionally, and this may be the most exciting news for "foodies", they plan to open "several new" restaurant concepts in 2024, including the old Red Robin Space at Southgate Mall, and in the Florence Building downtown.

Additionally, Liquid Planet is in the final stages of re-opening its new "Grill" location in the old Denny's restaurant which closed earlier this year and should be open "in a few weeks."

24 Closed Missoula Businesses We Wish We Could Bring Back

We asked Missoulians which of their favorite businesses that have closed down would they like to see make a triumphant return. Here's what they came up with.

Gallery Credit: Mike Smith

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