When Restaurant 515 announced its immediate closing last week it not only left Missoula with one less award-winning culinary option, but also put the fate of the Crystal Theatre into doubt. After a few days of nervous speculation and rumors, the building’s owner, David McEwen, summed things up succinctly: “The Crystal lives.”
The approximately 100-seat Crystal Theatre—at the back of the 515 S. Higgins Ave. building—has long been used for art shows, sit-down music concerts, small film festivals and, most often, as a theater venue. McEwen, who owns the building with his wife, Shirley, and was leasing it to 515, made the definitive statement after some local artists already under contract wondered if the Crystal would be shuttered, as well. While all the details have yet to be figured out—insurance, for one—McEwen feels confident he will be able to honor existing agreements and negotiate new ones.
“I’m at least 90 percent sure we’re going to find a way to figure this out,” he said. “Rest assured, Shirley and I are members of the community and strong supporters of the arts. We’re going to make every effort we can to accommodate people in this difficult time.”
Paul Myers, the co-owner and chef of 515, politely declined to comment. A voicemail greeting says the restaurant, which opened in late 2006, is “currently closed for re-organization.”
While the loss of 515—named Best New Restaurant by Indy readers last year—is disheartening, local artists at least found solace in maintaining access to a precious downtown space.
“I was hoping things would work out, and it sounds like they will,” said Seth Bloom, who is producing his company’s debut show, John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, at the Crystal in early May. “The Crystal is a beautiful space. We had a Plan B ready, but I’m much more comfortable sticking with Plan A.”