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Missoula's historic restaurant Shack is up for sale

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 16:36:37-05

MISSOULA — The Shack restaurant is famous for its great food from locally sourced huckleberry pancakes and Chicken in the Ruff.

But after 43 years owners Bill Warden and Robin Hamilton decided it’s time to sell.

“I will be 71 this year and my partner is 73,” said Warden. “So we have decided that’s probably a long enough run and it’s time to pass it to another generation and start enjoying some of the things you can do when you’re not working everyday.”

The Shack first opened in 1949 on Front street by world war two veteran Axel Hanson decided people should be able to get fried chicken and beer.

“This has always been a pretty popular option for locals, particularly when they bring out of town guests and family members,” said Warden.

The current building on Main Street was once the Turmell Demaurois auto complex. Warden and Hamilton wanted to create a place that had a vintage feel, so they searched the state.

"This bar ... was out of Fort Benton, came up on a steamboat from Saint Louis in 1882 and was the main bar in the Grand Union hotel,” said Warden. “It’s nice to have some places in Missoula that are from the past to have bits of the past.”

The stories people tell him are part of the living history of this place.

“The fellow who started the place, Axel Hansen, still has grandchildren in the area and several of them have come in wondering about the possibility of getting a summer job,” said Warden.

He hopes whoever buys the shack will buy it whole and continue running the restaurant both for the customers and his long-time employees. He knows that could be a challenge, but remains optimistic.

Bill Warden says the Shack employs anywhere from 35 to 45 people depending on the time of year. It's still open for business, he says his Realtor expects it to take six months to year for the Shack to sell.