What once served as a deli for famished University of Montana students will reopen early next year as a casual yet upscale restaurant offering views of the University Golf Course.

A building permit was filed last week with Missoula County, and UM Dining expects renovations on the golf course clubhouse to begin in early November.

“It’ll be an upscale, casual dining restaurant, and we’re hoping to create a nice little ambiance there,” said Mark Loparco, director of UM Dining. “We want a nice atmosphere, a neighborhood restaurant where people can get a great meal and watch some sports activities on the televisions.”

While the menu remains a work in progress, Loparco hinted at custom sandwiches, including a wagyu beef burger, a vegetarian Reuben and a pork chop sandwich that gets people talking.

Collaboration with Missoula College’s culinary arts program could come with the long-term vision, though that hasn’t been detailed. Several new student jobs will be created, and the restaurant will accept student meal plans, though they won’t be good for beer and wine.

“The menu isn’t finalized,” Loparco said. “It won’t be a huge menu, but we should have some unique sandwiches for sure.”

The clubhouse dates back to the 1960s and has rarely seen an upgrade. The building has no insulation and has fallen out of code over the years. The university intended to raze the structure when it looked to build Missoula College on the site.

But the plans changed, clearing the way for the building’s required renovations. The $200,000 project is self-funded by UM Dining and includes no money from the university’s general fund.

“We had a temporary third-party vendor in there while waiting for the university’s decision on where Missoula College was going to be sited,” Loparco said. “Once the decision was made to put the college on East Broadway, we needed to look at a long-term plan for the clubhouse.”

GAVIN-hanks Architectural Studio is designing the restaurant’s interior and has already presented its vision.

The essential work includes a remodeled kitchen, energy upgrades, and improved access and lighting. The niceties include new stone and woodwork, an improved layout and the exposure of architectural details.

“It includes many new finishes – a new bar, a refaced fireplace and a blend of rustic metal and timbers,” said architect Aaron Hanks. “They’re converting it into more of a higher-end, full-service restaurant.”

Hanks expects the work to be completed by February. The firm is currently reviewing contract bids, which were submitted on Oct. 8.

“It’s going to look quite a bit nicer,” Hanks said.