City Brew Has Sights Set on Missoula

By Courtney Lowery

Missoula coffee community is about to gain another member. The Billings-based City Brew Coffee chain is slated to start building its first Missoula store in 4-6 weeks in the ground level of a new building the corner of Orange and Broadway — drive-through window and all.

Owner Becky Reno says City Brew had been trying to break into Missoula for three years but had never quite found the right location.

“Missoula is a target market for us, always has been,” Reno says.

Once the Orange and Broadway store is up, Reno says City Brew will look for two other “bricks and mortar” locations and then branch out with three more kiosks in the greater Missoula area. The three-shop, three-kiosk per market business model is working well for City Brew, which opened its first store in Billings in 1998 and has since expanded to seven stores and a handful of kiosks (with plans for a total of 16) in Billings and the Flathead Valley.

City Brew just recently went national with its specialty coffees roasted in Billings and has quickly become a force to be reckoned with under Reno, who is no stranger to scrapping for national success. Reno’s started her first business, Video Library Inc., in 1980 with one store front in Billings. By the time she sold the business to Movie Gallery in 2003, the company included 15 retail stores in Montana and wholesale operations in 14 other states.

Even with all the rumblings about Starbucks coming to downtown Missoula, Reno is confident City Brew will do well here. She’s taken on the big national chains before — Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Hastings — so she knows just what to do.

“We have a concept that is well-suited in Missoula,” Reno says. “We’re very committed and we try to make a difference in our communities. People know we’re the real thing.”