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Missoula’s El Cazador planning restaurant renovation, adding outdoor patio

El Cazador
Posted at 1:17 PM, Nov 14, 2022

A popular downtown restaurant that relocated to the Midtown district is planning a sizable renovation that would improve the building's appearance and create more room for fans of Mexican cuisine.

Maria and Alfredo Hernandez, founders and owners of El Cazador, are planning a $375,000 renovation of their new South Avenue restaurant.

The work would expand the restaurant's capacity and include an outdoor deck – something that remains somewhat rare in the Midtown area.

The couple is asking the Missoula Redevelopment Agency for roughly $50,000 in tax increment assistance to replace the restaurant's inefficient windows.

The request is permitted through MRA's facade improvement program and is capped at 25% of the project's total cost, which stands at $1.2 million when property and prior renovations are included.

“The project includes interior dining room renovations, a new building addition with windows on the north side fronting South Avenue, an outdoor deck with an overhead pergola, and window replacements,” MRA project manager Annette Marchesseault said in a memo ahead of this week's meeting.

According to MRA, the renovation will expand the restaurant's capacity by 20 customers while the deck will provide seasonal seating for 24 customers.

The building was constructed in the 1980s and remains a product of its era.

The work will make the structure more energy efficient.

El Cazador's plan to add outdoor dining plays into a concept suggested in recent plans for the Midtown area.

While most new offerings continue to land on North Reserve, the city's Midtown area has slowly begun to attract restaurants of its own.

The recent Midtown survey offered area residents a range of questions on outdoor dining and other preferred attractions, and restaurants in the area have already begun to offer patios including the newly constructed Mustard Seed, and both the Great Burn Brewing and the Dram Shop.

The latter also received assistance from MRA when it opened its new Midtown facility roughly three years ago.

The Hernandezes opened El Cazador nearly three decades ago in downtown Missoula. They purchased the South Avenue property in 2017 and have already invested in an overhaul of the kitchen.

The downtown restaurant was eventually closed after the Midtown restaurant was up and running.