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KettleHouse, Black Coffee to open at Missoula airport
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KettleHouse, Black Coffee to open at Missoula airport

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The Missoula International Airport has announced that KettleHouse Brewing Company and Black Coffee Roasting Co. will have food and beverage concessions in the new south concourse at the airport when the first phase of construction is complete.

The airport authority board recently awarded the airport concession contract to Faber, Coe and Gregg, a New Jersey-based firm that operates all over the country. That firm has partnered with KettleHouse and Black Coffee and will staff the airport facilities.

"They're excited and we're excited," said airport deputy director Brian Ellestad. "It's two iconic Missoula brands."

The airport is in the midst of a multi-year initiative to accommodate rapidly increasing passenger numbers, including building a new three-story, 175,000-square-foot terminal building. The entire project could cost as much as $110 million and will be paid by user fees, grants and other sources.

A rendering of the Black Coffee facility that will be in the new airport.

The first phase includes concession facilities, and that part should be open to the public by the beginning of 2022, according to Ellestad.

Black Coffee will have both a pre-security kiosk and a post-security coffee bar. The new KettleHouse bar and restaurant will be in the post-security area, and will be near a large outdoor deck. 

"It's something that we're honored to be asked to participate in," said Tim O'Leary, who owns KettleHouse Brewing with his wife Suzy Rizza. "As a Missoula brewery that the locals seek, Faber, Coe and Gregg had come to Missoula and asked around and our name kept coming up. It's quite the honor."

O'Leary said it's an opportunity to showcase a local business to visitors coming to Montana.

"It might be the first thing they try getting off the plane, or maybe the last thing they leave with is a good taste in their mouth," he said. "It's quite an opportunity to welcome people to the state and send them off with a great cold pint of Cold Smoke Scotch Ale."

O'Leary said they have a licensing arrangement with Faber, and that firm will do all the hiring locally and operate the facility. He credited his marketing manager Tiffany Lutke with making the partnership happen.

More and more airports across the country are turning to local brands rather than national, generic operators, he noted.

"It's a trend you see across the country, local breweries having some kind of an outlet," he said. "Missoula will only continue to see increased visitation. It's a beautiful area and a dropping off point to get to Glacier and not too far from Yellowstone."

He thinks tourism will only increase.

"There's going to be more people who want to visit this state with our clean air and free-flowing rivers," he said.

O'Leary credits local bars and restaurants in Missoula, like the Top Hat, James Bar and Iron Horse with helping the brewery grow.

"The locally owned bars are really what brought us to the dance in terms of putting us out there and getting support from the community," he said. "Putting Cold Smoke on tap allows people to follow up on Montana's No. 1 seller."

Ellestad said construction of the airport is still on schedule. Crews will have a roof on the new building and will have it enclosed before winter, when interior work will begin. 

"At the tail end of '21 we hope to open it up," he said.

The airport is expecting a slow increase of passengers after the drastic drop-off during the pandemic, he said.

"It's more like a slow burn the next two years," he said. There hasn't been a huge decrease in the cost of tickets, he said, because airlines have decreased their availability. However, he said there are still bargains to be found.

He said architects are using a lot of Montana-sourced timber for the new concession kiosks. Overall, airport managers are optimistic about the new construction and what it means for Missoula.

"We've been pretty lucky so far," he said.

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