No egg nog milkshakes this year for Frugals fans. But the popular drive-in hopes to complete repairs from a gas explosion in time to re-open in January. 

The popular chain, which started in Port Angeles, Washington in the late 1980s, opened its Missoula location on Brooks Street in the spring of 2019 and instantly built a following of Frugals' fans in West Central Montana. Many in Western Montana were familiar with the chain because of the outlet that had operated for several years in Kalispell. 

Like other fast food outlets, the drive-in had weathered the pandemic and was looking forward to finishing 2022 on a high note. 

But then disaster struck when there was a gas explosion in the building in early October.

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Missoula Fire investigators said a gas fitting had likely failed, allowing natural gas to build up inside until it ignited, causing an explosion strong enough to lift the roof. Fortunately, the business was closed, so no one was injured. And a safety system shut off the gas, helping to limit the damage. 

However, it's taking longer than hoped to re-open.

Frugal's Regional Manager Kris Baker tells me the company has just been waiting to get city permits so they can begin the repairs and reconstruction. He says Frugals has also been working with the insurance company to replace some equipment, but fortunately, their employees are still receiving their pay during the shutdown. 

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo
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Baker says "luckily the damage wasn't that extensive", which is a good thing because restaurant equipment right now has been in short supply. And he says the goal is to open in January. 

As for those tasty wintertime specials we've been missing? After all, the Red Pepper Chipotle Burger was about to arrive when things went boom. Baker says Frugals will do what it can to catch up. 

In the meantime, check out these other lunch options in Missoula.

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