Reggae beats evenly from the sound system. The Cubbies and the Phillies are tied at 1 in the fourth inning. Soft August light filters down from the skylights, illuminating the bar with a natural glow. When we walked into The Still Room, located within the Broadway Inn, I immediately noticed the flower-adorned horned skull perched over 22 beer taps that reminded me a bit of Texas longhorns on the front of a classic Cadillac.
My husband and I visited The Still Room for an impromptu date night in mid-August. We chose a table under the skylights with a view of the Cubs game. A few construction workers dotted the long bar, relaxing after a day’s work, possibly on the nearby Russell Street bridge. The guys sitting at a table next to ours browsed their smartphones, discussing routes for the next day’s road trip. Guests shuffled in from the pool on the back patio to grab some shade and a cold drink.
The Still Room prides itself on a local focus, offering a swath of Montana beers as well as meats from local growers—Oxbow Cattle Company, Bitterroot Bison Company, Western Montana Growers’ Co-op, and Montrail Elk—in addition to pretzel buns and desserts from Bernice’s Bakery.
“We decided to go local because I’m under the philosophy that the back-of-house staff and the front-of-house staff should really buy into what you’re selling,” explained Dave Jenks, general manager of The Still Room. “It’s an economic thing, too. Here we have a million-dollar-a-year business buying products within 100 miles of our front door.”
There’s always been a restaurant and bar in the Broadway Inn; Dave met owner, Walt Muralt, “fortuitously” in the fall of 2016. Dave has over 20 years’ experience in the restaurant industry, coming to Missoula to help Walt renovate and rebrand the restaurant as The Still Room, which was completed in May of 2018.
“This is Walt and I’s baby,” Dave explained. “We’ve grown pretty substantially. For the most part, we’ve almost tripled our business in 2019.”
The secret to their growth, Dave said, is a commitment to a long-term vision.
“We don’t bite off more than we can chew,” said Dave. “We’re taking basic steps. We’re not trying to shoot for the middle. We’re constantly trying to improve and we know we are here for the long run.”
One part of the Dave and Walt vision is providing a unique experience for a variety of customers.
“We wear a lot of hats here,” said Dave. “You can come in and order a Bud Light and a burger, or you can find a well-crafted cocktail or a nice wine.”
The Still Room offers what Dave described as a “diverse, abbreviated wine list.” I tried a Chilean Pinot Noir, but also noticed a red blend made in Arizona.
Surprising wine, local craft beers, or standby-staples like Coors Light—all the markings of a restaurant with diverse options. But what might set The Still Room apart is its devotion to a well-made cocktail.
“We wanted to get back to the basics of classic bartending,” said Dave. “Our cocktail list is one of the hidden gems of Missoula.”
No revolting margaritas here: The Still Room uses fresh citrus juices and top-shelf liquors, many of them made by Montana distilleries, to up the ante on the Missoula cocktail game.
While The Still Room lies a bit off the beaten path on West Broadway, Dave said the big parking lot, as well as expansion by breweries and other restaurants on the Westside, make for a rising tide. By drawing attention to local liquors through tasting nights and special menu offerings, Dave hopes that more Missoulians will be drawn to experience the art of a good cocktail.
“We want to offer a great experience at a reasonable cost,” Dave explained. “We want your visit to The Still Room to be a well-rounded experience.”
The Still Room
1609 W Broadway Street