KILA — When the Cottage Inn closed its doors two years ago, marking the end of a community centerpiece on the outskirts of Kalispell, Michael Hahn noticed the void it left.
“There was something missing in Kila, basically for the locals; somewhere to stop and get a good meal or sit down and have a cold beer; somewhere with a family friendly environment,” Hahn said.
Instead of waiting around, he took it upon himself to find a solution. The longtime Kila resident re-invested in the former Cottage Inn location off U.S. Highway 2 and transformed the building into The Kila Pub, which opened earlier this month.
After six months of renovations, Hahn has created a new gathering ground for local families or visitors seeking a specialty pizza, hamburger, fish and chips or any other savory item on executive chef Boomer Inselman’s menu.
The bar and grill features a completely remodeled interior, with a full-service bar, custom-built wood booths and flat-screen televisions that will showcase live sporting events, including NFL Sunday Ticket during the fall. Outside, Hahn has built a wide deck overlooking the scenic Smith Valley range. As before with the Cottage Inn, bicyclists or runners can travel the Great Northern Trail, which sits just outside the patio.
“We’re not trying to be a destination location. But the views from the deck are fantastic and if people want to come and savor the food and the atmosphere, that’s awesome,” Hahn said. “But it’s really a local public house. That was our vision.”
Hahn enlisted the expertise of Inselman, who brings nearly 30 years of professional culinary experience, and Braelin Settle as general manager. She brings a decade of experience in the industry.
“I think the food is enough draw to bring people from town or further west, but we basically wanted it to be a local gathering place — come for the food, stay for the drinks, see a new place,” she said.
The menu offers a wide array of “comfort foods,” such as loaded nachos, chicken wings, garlic cheddar fries, and creative pizzas and hamburgers, such as “The Old MacDonald,” which boasts a fried egg, thick cut bacon and cheese atop a juicy hamburger patty. The fish and chips and fish tacos are already popular favorites, along with the selection of pizzas, from “The Greek” — garlic butter, seasoned grilled chicken, red onions and banana pepper rings — to the Spicy Hawaiian.
Inselman’s favorite part of the menu features the desserts, such as homemade bread pudding, huckleberry crème brulee and strawberry shortcake.
“Boomer and his staff make everything from scratch. It’s simple stuff that’s not too fancy, but it’s still excellent food that residents deserve at the price they can afford,” Hahn said.
The pub is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., with food served until 10 p.m. On Sundays, it opens for brunch and features French toast, pancakes, steak and eggs and more from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The new pub is the latest reincarnation for a well-known site in the heart of Kila. The building sat vacant for years after several other bars tried to make a go of it, including The Cottage Bar, the New Cottage Bar and the Watering Hole. Then the Cottage Inn moved in and became a beloved establishment. For six years it was a source of community for all ages and backgrounds until it went into foreclosure and was sold at an auction in May 2012.
“We frequented the Cottage. It was a nice place to come listen to a little music,” Hahn said. “When it went into auction, I was going to bid on the building but I got cold feet and backed out. A month later we saw a ‘For Rent’ sign. We immediately called and were able to strike a deal with the new owners on the lease purchase option for the future.”
Hahn and Settle believe in the pub’s future and hope it garners the same community spirit as before. In the six months they spent turning the empty building into a shining new establishment, folks would often show up eagerly asking when the pub was opening.
“We wanted to wait until we were totally ready and had a solid product and a solid place,” Settle said.
Finally, on July 1, Hahn welcomed the first patrons. The official grand opening is this Friday.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “It was such a great feeling when we finally opened the door and people flooded in.”
The Kila Pub is six miles west of Kalispell on U.S. Highway 2 at Kila Road. For more information call 755-1919 or visit www.thekilapub.com.
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