Foodies and the fitness-conscious can rejoice: It looks like Missoula’s downtown will see the addition of a few intriguing new businesses in the coming months. Two new sushi restaurants, an Eastern European/Russian bakery and a martial arts gym all are in the works.
All four businesses are in the permitting and remodeling process.
Babak’s Bakery and Deli Mart is set to open within the next few weeks at 134. W. Broadway, where Chops Teriyaki used to be located.
A new fast casual restaurant called The Poke Sushi Bowl has been granted a business license for 101 S. Higgins Avenue, in the Hammond Building next to the Wilma Theater. Just around the corner, a business called Saketome Sushi has been granted a building permit for 137 W. Front Street, in the spot where MacKenzie River Pizza used to be, next door to Montgomery Distillery.
Straight Blast Gym, a martial arts training and fitness center, will open sometime later this year at 218 W. Main Street, where Art & Ray’s Lock & Safe was located.
Olga Babak started Babak’s Bakery with her mother and sister about eight years ago. They've developed a loyal following at the Missoula Farmers' Market over the years.
“People always said you need a storefront, and finally it’s the time,” she said. “We’ve been looking for a few years.”
They’re in the process of remodeling the interior. When it’s finished, there will be indoor and outdoor seating.
“We will be baking all European and Russian goodies,” she said. “It’s European based, but mostly Eastern European.”
They’ll have cookies, cakes, cream cheese buns, breads, poppy seed rolls, pastries, strudels and kolbasa – a type of Russian sausage.
“We’ll have a mix of different things,” Babak said. “We’ll have different pastries, depending on how we make them or what the filling is.”
They’ll also serve espresso coffee.
Beka Bell is the junior partner and Missoula location manager for Straight Blast Gym at 218 W. Main Street, which also has locations in Kalispell and Whitefish. She said they’ll teach a variety of martial arts skills like Brazilian jiu jitsu, Muay Thai and self-defense, along with yoga. There will be classes for everyone from small children to people in their 70s and 80s. She’s in the middle of getting permits from the city, remodeling the interior and scheduling consultations with potential gym members now.
Originally, Bell was looking at a location out on Expressway, but fell in love with Missoula’s downtown and decided she couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be in a growing area.
“I’ve always loved Missoula’s downtown,” she said. “It kind of reminds me of downtown Kalispell, but just on a bigger scale. I just love it. I love the community here because everybody supports everybody.”
Art & Rays Lock & Safe, a locally-owned business since 1941, didn’t close. That business moved to 2436 W. Central Avenue, just off Reserve Street near The Shipping Depot.
The Poke Sushi Bowl is under construction on Higgins. The owners didn’t respond to a call for comment, so it’s unclear when the restaurant is set to open. According to its website, the poke bowls will be made with cubed ahi tuna that’s been marinated with soy sauce, scallions, ginger and sesame oil. The bowls will be customizable with a variety of sides, sauces, proteins and toppings. The menu lists everything from shrimp to tofu to fresh mango juice to miso soup.
A business called Saketome Sushi has received a building permit for 137 W. Front Street in Missoula. The owners were not reachable for comment. A restaurant with the same name, Saketome Sushi, is popular in Bigfork and has earned a loyal following over the past few years.