BILLINGS- Two new restaurants are setting up shop on the Rimrock Mall property, but mall officials are hoping for more.
Blaze Pizza is opening this week at 316 24th St. on mall property in front of the main property.
Next door will be Five on Black, a Missoula-based Brazilian grill chain, currently under construction and set to open next year.
On Wednesday, officials with Rimrock Mall said they are also entertaining inquiries to fill the 7,500 square feet of restaurant space at the front of the mall that’s sat empty for years.
Aside from the food court, this space is best capable of housing a full sit-down restaurant anchored inside the mall said Daron Olson, a Rimrock Mall spokesman.
The space was previously home to the Cattle Company Restaurant, which closed in the late 1990s. The Sleeping Giant Brewery moved int but closed in the early 2000s. Then it housed Lucky Lil’s Casino until that finally relocated back in 2008.
Today the space is storage.
Buyers are showing extreme interest in the space, Olson said.
“Conversations have been heating up,” he said.
However, Olson is keeping the specifics quiet. He will only reveal that there is national and regional concept interest.
Rimrock officials are actively having leasing conversations daily with numerous walkthroughs, said Olsen.
The vacant restaurant space is intriguing to a potential buyer for a variety of reasons because of its capacity and the coveted patio, which welcomes people at the front entrance to the mall.
However, mall representatives are eager to get a tenant in that location because a restaurant is proven to bring people to the mall, Olson said.
“It’s format that we are pivoting toward,” he said.
He describes a new wave of mall shopping where people are attracted to “do things” rather than go to a place where people only buy and then leave.
“More food concepts, more entertainment concepts,” he said.
An anchor restaurant is a key component to that, according to Olson.
“Good restaurant presence can do as much volume as a department store,” he said. “Friends and family tell me they would spend more time here if they had a place to grab a bite to eat,” said Olson. “It drives traffic for the other retailers in the district, and they want to come here and spend time here.”
Olson believes to do that, a restaurant must be added.