10 years ago I was married at one of Missoula's most unique locations, and on pure chance, I learned today that after it's been closed for several years, it will be reopening. I am absolutely overjoyed.

Most wedding venues are just that--venues dedicated to weddings. But when I got married, my husband and I were on a very limited budget and couldn't afford most venues. We didn't really want a church wedding, but we wanted to go somewhere special. That's when a friend told me about a restaurant in Missoula that had opened a really cool space in their basement.

At the time, the space was for small dinner parties and could be rented out by groups. That was how my friend had ended up there and suggested it as the type of place that could host a small wedding. This is exactly what I was looking for.

La Grotto Bella

Never in my wildest dreams, did I think I would get married in the basement of The Old Post in Missoula. At the time, the space was called La Grotto Bella, or "The Beautiful Cave" and that's exactly what it was.

The walls looked like stucco and in the center was a gorgeous rock arch. That's where we got married--right under the arch with our family and friends in a circle around us.

Credit: Ashley
Credit: Ashley

Years went by and The Old Post closed but then reopened under new ownership. When my husband and I went there for the first time since our wedding, we were thrilled to know that even though the restaurant had been updated with new tables and a bar, as well as new lighting, the place still "felt" like The Old Post. But La Grotto Bella wasn't open anymore. We wondered if it would ever reopen.

On a whim, I called The Old Post today and got the most wonderful surprise. I spoke with General Manager Kass Sinclair who told me, "[The basement is] not currently open, but the owner's daughter is going to have her engagement party in the venue next weekend." And this event will serve as a soft opening.

Plans for the New Space at The Old Post

Contractors are working to finish up changes to the space, though Sinclair says they haven't changed the space much. She describes the vibe as "Speakeasy Style, a little bit homier, and a little bit cozier" bringing the same energy from upstairs to the downstairs.

The space will be reopened as a cocktail lounge with a limited menu. The new chef, Amy, will be revamping the lunch and dinner menu in addition to creating the limited lounge menu.

"We're coming to this full circle moment," Sinclair said. "Our patio is open for the summer and we'll continue our patio parties. There will be a second entrance to the basement." So a person could enjoy three separate spaces when visiting The Old Post: the restaurant, the patio, and the new lounge in the basement.

Though the basement may be getting a facelift, Sinclair says that they are still keeping what she calls "the heart of the building" and the endearing quirks.

"The lights flicker in the basement," she said, with a chuckle.

The hope is to be open in the early summer of 2023, so in the next several weeks.

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