-Mari Hall reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – Zootown Brew will close its doors by the end of June after a decade of business in downtown Missoula.
Zootown Church, which owns the coffee shop, decided to invest instead in its children’s ministry program, church spokeswoman Christy Neil said.
“For the past couple of years, we’ve been working on raising funds for the children’s ministry and a whole new children’s area at the church,” Neil said.
“Financially, (Zootown Brew) was supported by the church, so it was one of those things where, big picture, if the goal of the church was to really impact the community for kids as well, they felt like they couldn’t do both financially.”
Zootown Brew was well known not only for coffee but for its space and community meeting room downstairs. The whole idea behind the shop was more than just coffee.
“A lot of coffee shops, the vision behind it is to provide a good cup of coffee,” Neil said. “Here, that was a huge part of it, but also providing connection and community. There was the basic staff, mostly interns, who really came with a desire to serve people, which is a lot different than most coffee shop staff.”
The children’s ministry, called Kids in the Zoo, is in need of a new space as more families coming into town, Neil said. The plan right now is to renovate Zootown Brew for that purpose.
“The space (the kids) are in now, they’ve really outgrown it,” Neil said. “So it’s always been a vision to provide a bigger area for them.”
Montana Code School instructor Ed Weymouth visits Zootown Brew twice a week to drink coffee and work remotely on coding projects.
Weymouth said the code school used Zootown Brew as a meeting space for Coffee and Code, where students met and worked on coding projects and shared what they created.
Now, he’ll have to find a new place to meet.
“This was an awesome space,” Weymouth said. “But maybe something cool will go in next time.”