MISSOULA — Tourists are back, businesses are open and Pie Hole is welcoming the slow return to normal, especially after a difficult 18 months of limited customer contact and reduced sales.
This September, Pie Hole – owned by Koby Keene – will mark its sixth anniversary. The pizzeria and its late-night hours are popular with the local bar scene, but the business faced its share of challenges during the pandemic as social distancing restrictions and new sanitary practices were put in place.
“The hardest experience to come to terms with as a small business downtown was that we were going to lose our beloved customers and immunocompromised staff that I held near and dear,” said general manager Parker Christiansen. “Many of the friends that, for their own safety, had to say goodbye and use the advantages given to those in need to stay safely at home and social distance.”
Despite the distance created between staff and customers, and the loss of the late-night bar rush, Pie Hole continued to serve the Missoula community fighting the pandemic. The business is located on the corner of Higgins Avenue and Alder Street.
“Throughout the Covid pandemic, we couldn’t do the business we usually would supporting our tourists. We stayed open as late as we could supporting nurses and other frontline workers,” said Christiansen.
Community support is not new for Pie Hole, which has played an active role in sponsoring local events and clubs around Missoula.
“Our relationship with the community can be seen in the recreation world with sponsorships towards UM ski club, LB Snow and MTB Missoula. We strive to serve the entire community while supporting the backbone of Missoula’s largest export, recreational tourism.”
Pie Hole also offered resources to its employees who may have been struggling throughout the pandemic. This included covering basic needs such as handing out toilet paper, offering staff-free pizza, and even increasing wages.
Despite Covid restrictions having eased through the summer months, Pie Hole is excited to welcome back customers safely , and keeping sanitary procedures and masks on standby.
“Since we’ve seen a spike in vaccinations and [lifting of the mask mandate], business has bounced back. Missoula is seeing a large influx of tourists and people looking to stick around our beautiful community. Pie Hole is looking forward to serving pizza safely to everyone in the community that needs a bite late at night.”