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Top Hat ready for grand reopening

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 06:17:27 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2013 06:31:14 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Crews are getting ready to debut Missoula's newly renovated Top Hat Lounge this Friday.

Workers started remodeling the downtown landmark early this year. Now it's ready -- or close to ready.

The Top Hat has been a mainstay bar and live music hot spot for years.

It opened in 1952. Through the years, it got a little shabby. Now, it has new life.

"One of our big goals," said owner Nick Chicota, "was to open up the space quite a bit so we took out a lot of walls."

Its grand reopening Friday will have a bluegrass venue.

"Live music is the center forum of what we're doing and we'll have a lot of good live national and local live music," said Chicota.

The treasured Brunswick Bar has been refinished.

The bartenders and the chef are prepping and trying to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

"There's an exciting buzz about the place," said bar manager Tom Thompson.

Aaron Palmer is an electrician on the project. He remembers spending his 21st birthday at the old Top Hat.

"It was definitely one of the places to go," said Palmer.

Top Hat fans say it will be again.

Chicota is the Top Hat's fourth owner in 60 years.