BILLINGS - What used to be a beloved Billings icon is no more.
After 55 years, Village Inn Pizza at 2048 Grand Ave. was torn down on Thursday, but its beloved recipes will likely live on.
"The aura of Village Inn Pizza is undeniably heartfelt," Billings resident Tyler Cruse, a Village Inn regular, said on Thursday.
The demolishment of Village Inn marked the end of an era, and Cruse and his family are among the many who can't believe it's gone. He said that the restaurant was part of the fabric of his family.
"It’s a family get-together place. Just walking in the door is like the feeling of walking into an arena. You get that feeling of, 'I’m here'. Makes your heart just pump thinking about it," added Cruse.
And he’s far from the only Billings resident filled with a lifetime of memories of the restaurant.
"I worked here at our office for 44 years next to Village Inn Pizza, and I just thought Village Inn deserved a big shout-out for being such a big part of a lot of Billings. Many people that are native to Billings have enjoyed it through the years," said Village Inn fan Tim McBride on Thursday.
But not all is bad news for fans of the pizza restaurant.
Village Inn is here to stay, albeit in a new location.
The soon-to-be new owners of CJ'S Bar and Grill on Central Avenue have purchased the restaurant's recipes and told MTN News they plan to reopen Village Inn later this year, with eyes on sometime during the summer in what is now CJ'S Garage.
The owners asked not to be identified because the sale of the property has not closed.
The old location for Village Inn will become an expanded car lot for Dana Motors, which operates next door.
"It was very important to me, as a lifetime Billings resident, very important to me that Village Inn continue on. And while it couldn’t continue on in that building, I’m very happy that it’s continuing on as the restaurant that we all grew up loving," said Dana Motors owner Del McCormick on Thursday.
And for those wondering about all those amenities so many Village Inn fans loved for years, from the red cups to the famous Mrs. Pac Man machine, rest assured they’re safe and sound. And will be a fixture of the new restaurant.
That's music to the ears of Tyler Cruse.
"To know that the Village Inn name hasn’t died or didn’t cease to exist just yet is very uplifting," Cruse added.