Missoulians packed the parking lot of the Hoagieville off South Higgins on Saturday as they patiently waited for orders of cheese fries, burgers and hoagies at the drive-in’s last day of business.
Customers of all ages placed their orders from their cars or the walk-up window from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, waiting for up to 30 minutes for their food. The quick-service restaurant was so busy that it ran out of its signature item, the hoagie, by noon.
Customers didn’t seem to mind as they waited and reminisced about the times they spent at the iconic location.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid,” said Jordan Fowlkes, who visited Hoagieville on Saturday with his father, Dan. “We lived just down the way from here.”
The South Higgins location has been a Missoula fixture for decades since the drive-in opened in the 1950s, when it was known as Sharpe's A&W Root Beer.
Now, current owner Chris Goble is closing the iconic location to make way for a new family-friendly restaurant — named "Brewed" — serving local beers, coffee and wine.
Longtime customer Fowlkes, whose Hoagieville favorites include chocolate shakes, cheese fries and cheeseburgers, said that while it’s exciting to see new growth, “it's a shame to see some of the old things go away.”
Customers can still order their favorites at the restaurant’s other locations on North Reserve and inside Southgate Mall, but the South Higgins location evokes nostalgia for many.
“It’s been here for so long; it's such an institution,” said Jack Cummings. “I used to come here when I was in college back in the '80s and it was always nice. In the spring and the summers, the days got longer and it was always just a lot of fun.”
On Saturday, customers waited for the convenient pull-in parking spots where a carhop delivered their order on a tray that attached to their window.
John, Ina and Cheryl Swanson waited for their order while their daughter, Amy Galipeau, zipped between cars delivering orders.
The family has been coming to the location for decades, or “ever since it's been open,” according to Ina.
Galipeau, who will be a part-owner of Brewed, started working at Hoagieville as a carhop when she was 16 after years of visiting the location with her family.
“I’ve been here for over 10 years so it's been a major part of my life, but I'm very excited for the new place and to be a part of it,” Galipeau said.
Goble, who worked the kitchen on Saturday, rushed to fill orders and keep up with the unexpected number of customers.
“It’s busier than we ever expected,” Galipeau said. “But it's really awesome and fun.”
She said they'll begin building for the new restaurant this week and that they hope to be open in November.
“We really appreciate all of the customers who have been coming in for a really long time and we're very excited for the new place,” Galipeau said. “I hope that people come visit us and check out Brewed.”