Iza Closing

Emi Matsuoka takes a lunch order from Jen Friedberg and Bo Walker of Washington state at Iza restaurant in Missoula on Tuesday. Iza is closing on Dec. 21, and owner Tobin Aroner said he may look at other locations and other food concepts for a future restaurant.

Iza, an Asian fusion restaurant located on South Higgins Street, announced this weekend that it will be closing its doors on Dec. 21.

"We just want to give a huge thanks for everybody's support over the past 10 years," said owner Tobin Aroner. "It has been a pretty amazing journey from start to finish."

Aroner said he would love to keep the business open but said that hasn't been easy "due to unfavorable lease terms." He said the rental price has been “incrementally” increased over the years and the building needs a lot of maintenence.

"We're definitely going to take a break and reassess and look at potential other locations, and with that said, there are one or two other food concept ideas as well that I'd like to execute in the future," Aroner said.

The restaurant, which opened in 2009, serves pan-Asian dishes that represent cuisine from South East Asia, Japan, Korea and India, according to the restaurant's website.

Aroner advised that anyone with gift cards use them before the restaurant's closure.

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to around 9 p.m., and on Saturdays for dinner from 5 p.m. to about 9 p.m.

John Schubert owns the building at 525 S. Higgins but wasn’t available Tuesday for comment. Aroner said he believes a pizza restaurant called Carlascio’s Pizzeria, which has a location in Southgate Mall, has signed a lease to take over the old Iza spot eventually. The Missoulian was unable to confirm that information.

Matthew Phillips, the head chef at Iza, said he’s only been working there since April, and he’s not too upset about losing his job.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “I was able to enter this job with a basic kitchen level, and I worked up to head chef. So I’ll have a more impressive resume leaving. Also my wife and I want to travel so it’s coming at a decent time. Not like I would be hoping for it explicitly, but it’s not a devastating blow.”

Phillips said the unfortunate part is that the Old Post Pub recently closed on the north end of Higgins Avenue, which means a few dozen restaurant workers had to take jobs at other restaurants or are looking elsewhere.

“I know a lot of their people are looking for jobs, so the market’s going to be saturated for a bit,” he said. “But especially if I’m not looking for a new position for a few months, there’ll be a lot of positions, and there’s always new places opening up.”

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