Sidewall Pizza Co

Sidewall Pizza Company Friday, July 17, 2020.

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Sidewall Pizza Company opened this month in the Emerson Center in the space that previously housed the Emerson Grill.

“We’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, but didn’t know which way to go,” said Sidewall owner Kenny Straus, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife Audrey. “I think we can hopefully turn it into one of the coolest spots in town.”

The first Sidewall Pizza Company was started by a couple in an old tire shop in South Carolina, hence the name, and the Bozeman Sidewall will be the first outside of that state. The menu features a variety of meat and vegetarian pizzas, all with the option of gluten free crust, and salads. The shop also makes its own ice cream using milk from Kalispell Kreamery, with coconut milk ice cream available as a vegan option.

Straus said the restaurant now has about 20 employees but, whenever COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the restaurant is able to serve more customers, that number will likely be closer to 30.

Sidewall’s first day in business was July 2, though Straus said business really started picking up earlier this week. He said opening a restaurant during a pandemic has been a wild ride.

“The one word answer is ‘crazy,’” he said. “The only thing we can do is keep chugging and doing the right thing for our employees and our community.”

The pandemic and the warm weather has made dining on the spacious outdoor patio a popular option, Straus said.

The pizza company is occupying the same space at 207 W. Olive St., that the Emerson Grill had for 15 years, inside the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture and alongside the center’s many artists.

Local art created by Emerson artists hangs on the walls of both the restaurant and the small adjacent bar, some for sale but some purchased to hang in the restaurant. Sidewall doesn’t take a commission when an artist’s work sells, like many galleries and restaurants do, meaning the entire cost of the piece goes straight to the artist.

And, at least for now, all of the art hanging in Sidewall was created by women.

“It’s been so cool to get to know the tenants,” Straus said.

More information about Sidewall Pizza Company can be found on the restaurant’s website, sidewallpizzabozeman.com.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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