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Business Buzz: Downtown award nominees announced; new restaurant

Business Buzz: Downtown award nominees announced; new restaurant

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Here's some business news in the Missoula area:

The owners of Flying Squirrel in Missoula have announced that they are permanently closing the location on Brooks Street.

"For the past eight months, like many Montana businesses, Flying Squirrel Missoula has suffered significant financial strain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," said founder and chief operating officer Luke Schueler. "While these matters remained outside of our control, we engaged our landlord to attempt to create workable solutions to ensure our obligations were met. Unfortunately, our California-based landlord took an approach requiring us to pay full rent, even during our mandated closure period. This was non-negotiable."

Schueler said they were paying $34,000 per month to lease the 25,000-square-foot building.

"Unable to secure any sort of meaningful relief from the landlord, Flying Squirrel has been, despite our best efforts, forced to close," he said. "This is by far the hardest announcement to write. It is with a heavy heart that we announce that we will be permanently closing a location for the first time. It makes me sick thinking about all of the hard work the team and staff put into this location, only to see it close down due to factors completely outside of our control."

Pho Vi, a new Vietnamese restaurant, has officially opened at 2101 Brooks St. The family that runs Vietnam Grill in downtown Missoula has opened the new eatery, which serves all types of Vietnamese sandwiches, soups and noodles.

The Missoula Indoor Soccer Arena business, located at 2811 Latimer Street, is for sale for $130,000. The business features a 10,000-square-foot space with a turf field for sports plus a bouncy house and space for events and parties.

Since 1986, the Missoula Downtown Association has been honoring and recognizing individuals and businesses that "contribute to the vibrant life and connectivity of Downtown Missoula" according to operations coordinator Bram Moore.

"While the pandemic will prevent the Downtown community from gathering to celebrate, twelve individuals will be recognized and celebrated for their selfless contributions to a better Downtown Missoula," Moore said in an email. " The six Downtown Award Winners will be shared with the Missoula community February 1-5 by video on Missoula Downtown’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The nominees for the 2020-21 Downtown Missoula Annual Awards are:

Downtown Employee of the Year

· Shirstie Gaylord, Hometana

· Shanti Johnson, Missoula Urban Transportation District

· Nathan McLeod, Missoula Parks & Recreation

Downtown Volunteer of the Year

· Geoff Badenoch

Downtown Board Member of the Year

· Ashley Larkin, First Montana Bank

· Jed Liston, University of Montana

Downtown Committee Member of the Year

· Tom Snyder, 5 on Black

Downtown Business of the Year

· Missoula Broadcasting Company: Becky Smith

· Missoula Paddleheads: Peter & Susan Crampton

· Stockman Bank: Bob Burns

Dan Cederberg Downtowner of the Year

· Eric Legvold, United Way

· Amy Allison-Thompson, The Poverello Center

“Every year the Missoula Downtown Association celebrates a handful of Missoulians who simply go above and beyond the standard in their daily lives to provide service to the Downtown community,” said Ashley Larkin, President of the Missoula Downtown Association Board of Directors. “In an extraordinary year, when the opportunities to connect in person were essentially eliminated, the contributions of these 12 individuals stand out as remarkable."

"While we won’t be able to celebrate these folks at our annual awards banquet this year, we hope our partners and members will help us spread the good news," she continued. "Great things happen because of good people, and Downtown Missoula is special because of their contributions.”

Established in 1975, the Missoula Downtown Association is comprised of 550 members and is dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing the vitality of Downtown Missoula. The annual awards program was created in 1986 with the Downtowner of the Year Award, which was renamed in 2018 to honor the three decades of public service to the Downtown community by local attorney Dan Cederberg. The program was expanded in 2004 and again in 2014 for a total of six specific honorees annually.

"Some of Downtown Missoula’s biggest champions are on the list," Moore wrote. 

For more information on the Downtown Award nominees, visit or contact Chelsee Kucera at the Downtown Missoula Partnership office via phone (406-543-4238) or email (

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