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Burns St. Bistro

A calendar marked with Missoula concert dates hangs in Burns Street Bistro Friday afternoon. The bistro will be bolstering their brunch staff in preparation for the Pearl Jam concert Monday night.

More concerts have meant more tourists and more spending at Missoula businesses, whether they're selling hotel rooms, drinks, ice cream or brunch.

At Montgomery Distillery on Front Street, First Fridays can be great nights for business.

Last Friday, though, set a record for the first Friday in August for the five-year-old distillery. Business was up 25 percent from First Friday last year, according to co-owner Ryan Montgomery.

That night there was not only the art walk, but a sold-out Pixies concert at the 4,500-capacity KettleHouse Amphitheater, meaning people were heading to the Top Hat Lounge across the street from the Distillery to take shuttles to the venue. That night, there was also a concert at the Adams Center by country star Chris Stapleton. And the Decemberists held their second curated festival, Travelers' Rest, on Saturday and Sunday at Big Sky Brewing Company.

Regardless of the weekend, Montgomery said that shows at the amphitheater and the Wilma boost the distillery's business.

"It's been nothing but positive," he said. "I think it's an overall benefit for Missoula businesses."

It was also a good weekend to sell brunch. At the Burns St. Bistro, they keep a calendar of big concerts and staff up, said co-owner Jason McMackin. At the start of last summer, they weren't sure how concerts would affect their business, but now it's "the new normal." A sold-out show at the KettleHouse Amphitheater means they're prepared to serve more customers.

With Pearl Jam playing to an expected crowd of 25,000 on Monday, they're adding far more staff than they would normally have on a weekday brunch shift.

Over at the Shack, another staple of the Missoula brunch scene, last weekend was noticeably busier. Amber Kinney, a host, said the wait time was double thanks to the influx of concert-goers.

At Finn & Porter, the restaurant located in the DoubleTree Hotel across the river from campus, Friday's concerts made a high mark.

It was a record day, according to Scott Ostrander, the food and beverage director for the hotel and restaurant, referring to the volume of people in the restaurant, the hotel and the overall revenue.

To get ready for Pearl Jam, they're increasing their staff levels and expect they might need to stay open later than normal.

Over on the Hip Strip, Big Dipper Ice Cream is taking advantage of the concert season on multiple fronts, according to owner Charlie Beaton. They sell half-pint containers of ice cream at KettleHouse Amphitheater and sent their vending truck to Travelers' Rest.

"We've positioned ourselves everywhere we can," he said. His staff is working "full-steam ahead" for Pearl Jam's concert, where they'll have a truck and ice-cream bike at the pre-concert festival. They've made two custom flavors, Jeff Ament Chip, a mint chocolate-chip, and a peanut-butter-and-jam flavor, with potential for more.


If you still need a place to stay for the Pearl Jam concert, happy hunting.

The Thunderbird Motel, located across the Clark Fork River from campus, has been booked up for at least several weeks, according to owner Thelma Baker. She's expecting lots of guests from Big Sandy, where bassist Jeff Ament grew up.

She's still getting calls inquiring about rooms.

"I probably have had maybe 20 calls today alone," she said Thursday. The concerts at the Adams Center and at KettleHouse have been great for her business, which has been down due to the construction at Interstate 90 and Van Buren Street, she said.

On East Spruce Street, the 16-capacity Shady Spruce Hostel has a waiting list for this weekend.

Assistant manager Dylan Ritter said the big concerts have been good for the hostel. Sometimes the travelers you'd expect at a hostel, coming from Glacier or Yellowstone national parks, have been surprised to share space with large groups headed to a concert.

The Missoula KOA campground has been booked up for Monday for quite a while, but still gets calls every day, according to clerk Jessie Lukin. He said the site has 176 spots, including RV sites, tent sites and cabins.

Down in Hamilton, summer tourism has brought the Bitterroot River Inn to capacity every weekend since the start of July, according to general manager Bonnie Sue Upchurch.

This weekend is no different.

"We've been sold out for the Pearl Jam concert for quite awhile," she said.


Music fans aren't coming to town without hitting up the city's two independent music shops.

At Rockin' Rudy's, they had plenty of customers wearing Travelers' Rest Festival bracelets, said manager Sarah Nielsen. They're having more staff on hand Saturday through Monday to prepare for the Pearl Jam fans — the group always brings more people to town, she said.

At Ear Candy, located on the Hip Strip, owner John Fleming said it's easy to spot a tourist from one of the crate-digging regulars.

"We definitely experience an uptick when there are bigger shows from out of town," Fleming said. The shop notes which artists are coming and re-stocks its inventory. They might have an extra staff member come in, or have someone ready to if it gets busy.

"It's definitely a good thing," he said, adding, "I can't imagine what the hotel and restaurant situation downtown is on the weekends."

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