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Open Mon-Sat @5pm, Reservation Highly Recommended!

515 S. Higgins Ave.
Missoula, MT 59801 (Map)

MISSOULIAN: Silk Road restaurant to close in October so owners can focus on selling spice blends

It's true! We're closing! The next six months is for all of you! 

Starting Sunday May 15, 2016, The Silk Road Restaurant will be

Here's a list of what's coming soon:

Saturday, May 7th, Clark Fork Farmer's Market: 
The Silk Road Sauces & Marinades for sale!

Last Mother's Day Brunch, Sunday May 8th, 9am-2pm

Graduation Weekend: May 13-15, 2016, Restaurant open at 5pm.  (Deposits required for parties 6 or more)

Sunday, May 15th through the end: Restaurant Open Seven Days a Week for dinner at 5pm. 

And, of course, reservations will continue to be highly recommended.

The official last day will be Saturday, October 1, 2016. 

Thank you, Missoula, and friends from afar, for supporting our home-grown restaurant adventure for seven years! 

Silk Road restaurant to close in October so owners can focus on selling spice blends

DAVID ERICKSON david.erickson@missoulian.com 

After seven years on the Higgins Avenue Hip Strip, the popular Silk Road Restaurant will be closing on Oct. 1 so the owners can focus their energy on their successful line of spice blends, a new line of cooking sauces and a thriving catering business.

General managers Sam and Elise Risho and executive chef Abraham Risho have found that because their unique spices like Moroccan Harissa and Japanese Togarashi are taking off, there just isn’t enough time to operate a restaurant anymore.

“We’re going to actually retire the restaurant because the spice operation has now gotten to a point where we’re still in a regional place but we’re almost to a place where we can hit a national level,” Sam Risho explained. “And with our new sauces it’s going to ramp up our production level enough that we’re not going to have the ability to operate the restaurant anymore.”

“There just aren’t enough hours in the day,” Elise said, bouncing the couple’s young daughter in her arms.

The Risho’s father Ray is a well-known chef in town, and the family has operated several restaurants here, including Perugia from 1995 to 2005.

“It’s kind of a cyclical thing,” Risho explained. “Every now and then our family does another awesome restaurant in this town. It’s been an incredible journey.”

They cater 30 to 40 weddings every summer and also do private cooking events in people’s homes, parties and corporate events.

“We’ve been this prominent place on the Hip Strip for so long, and when we opened our restaurant we were the first tapas place in town and then all these other restaurants started doing this theme and style,” Risho recalled. “Our goal is not to stop cooking for the community. Our catering business is thriving and we want to continue doing it. We want to continue doing fantastic meals.”

They’ll still be based here, and you’ll be able to find them at the farmers market this summer hawking their wares.

The Silk Road is a tapas-style global cuisine restaurant, and the spice blends –Ethiopian Berbere, Egyptian Dukka, North African Ras el Hanout and several others – are used in the restaurant’s cooking.

“The legacy of the restaurant is right here in these tins,” Risho explained. “This is a retail product that we’ve come out with, and our family has been cooking with these recipes for 40 years. We’ve got a style of cooking that sets us apart from anywhere else in town.”

The spices can be found in almost 200 stores all over the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii and Illinois. The sauces will be based on the blends as well.

"We had this slogan of 'elevate your cooking' because, literally, you roast some vegetables and sprinkle a little bit of one of these spice blends on there and it takes it to a whole new level," Risho said.

The Rishos use the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center in Ronan to toast and blend their spices, and they hope to start selling their new sauces out of the restaurant in May. Risho compares this new venture to when Bipin Patel, the founder of Tipu’s Indian restaurant nearby, shut down the popular Indian restaurant several years ago to focus on selling his retail chai product.

“We have friends all over this country and we want to cook for everyone instead of just Missoula and start hitting some new demographics,” Risho said. “By having this restaurant we’ve kind of branded ourselves and created a name for ourselves, and it’s exciting for us."

They said they plan to help their 30 employees transition to other jobs in any way they can, and they expect to be busy this summer and especially right before they close.

"Hopefully, we have good support from the community for the last few months that we're open, and everyone can thrive and be successful during that time," he said. "We'll still keep a lot of staff for our catering operation. Our employees are all very skilled and passionate people."

Sam and Elise acknowledged that they know a lot of people will be sad the restaurant is closing.

“Honestly, it’s a thriving restaurant and a great business but so much work that we can’t take this other part of the business to the next level,” Risho said.

While smiling at his young toddler, Risho also said that his family has a habit of opening new restaurants in town.

“I’m sure it won’t be the last time that Missoula sees us having a restaurant,” he grinned.

For more information, visit www.silkroadcatering.com.