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Business Buzz: Biga Pizza expanding; new downtown 'Cranky Sam' brewery planned

Business Buzz: Biga Pizza expanding; new downtown 'Cranky Sam' brewery planned


Here's a look at some business news in the Missoula area:

Biga Pizza is expanding its downtown Missoula location as a new brewery called Cranky Sam Brewing is planned next door on West Main Street.

Local attorney Jed Heggen said he's got most of his permitting done for the brewery, which will occupy the old radiator repair building at 232 W. Main St. and the old Convergence Gallery building to the east, with a second phase planned to occupy the old vintage clothing store building at a later date.

"We're pretty excited about it," Heggen said. "We don't have a hard timeline yet, but it's a cool space with access on Front Street and Main Street. There'll be a newer section in the center portion that will dress it up."

He said he talked to local historians and found that "Cranky Sam" was a local character that hung around Missoula's "red light district" in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

"We wanted to connect with the history of those buildings a little bit," he said.

Local University of Montana researchers sifted through the dirt as construction began and found old opium pipes and bottles, he noted. 

"They found all kinds of stuff," he said. "They said it was one of the most significant downtown finds they ever had. There's a lot of history there. It's pretty amazing."

Next door, Biga Pizza is well underway with construction on expanding.

“There’s lots of growth going on downtown and it’s time for us to meet the demand,” said Biga Pizza owner Bob Marshall. “There’s been a resurgence of growth.”

An old tattoo parlor building behind Biga Pizza on Front Street was recently demolished, and Marshall will use the space to expand his take-out service.

“We are sometimes on an hour-and-a-half wait for takeout,” he explained. “We haven’t been able to keep up with delivery. We’re already on a long wait. We do what we can do.”

Marshall said his business has stayed “relatively small” for 13 years.

“But now we’re bursting at the seams,” he said. “With the new hotels downtown and the Top Hat’s expansion, this just seemed like the right fit.”

Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice announced this week that the Department is now accepting applications for the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer Matching Funds Program.

“The opportunity for grant dollars increases the likelihood that Montana tech companies will be able to successfully develop and market new products,” Rice said. “This supports the development of innovative businesses and strengthens Montana’s economy.”

Grants of up to $60,000 are available for technology-based Montana companies that have received a federal award. Companies previously awarded grants include DermaXon in Missoula, Resonon, S&K Global Solutions, and Montana Emergent Technologies.

Application guidelines and a link to apply are at MARKETMT.COM/MSMFP.

Missoula International Airport has achieved a perfect review from the Federal Aviation Administration as part of its Part 139 annual inspection. The inspection is a requirement for all airports that serve scheduled and unscheduled air carrier aircraft with more than 30 seats and are required to have an Operating Certificate from the FAA.

According to a press release from the airport’s director, Airport Operating Certificates serve to ensure safety in the operation of aircraft on the airfield. To obtain and retain a certificate, an airport must meet certain operational and safety standards, including but not limited to the areas of pavement, markings, lighting, ground vehicle operations on the airfield, and wildlife management. Also inspected are the airport’s fueling operations and facilities, the aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel training records, response times and equipment.

“This is a great testament to the professionalism of all our staff members and underscores the Airport Authority’s commitment to safety. These inspections are very detailed, and a finding of no discrepancies is rare,” said Jeff Roth, Chairman of the Missoula County Airport Authority.

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