Every day I drive past the former Torres Cafe building on my way to work and I often wondered what the future held for the former Mexican restaurant location. Empty buildings don't age very well and as the weeds and elements slowly do what they do to a vacant property, it was starting to look a little rough around the edges.

This morning (7/13) on my drive in  the office, I did a double-take. Heavy equipment was making quick work of demolishing the remains of the popular restaurant. I jumped off the interstate and backtracked on the South Frontage road to take a closer look.

Fans were sad when Torres Cafe announced their closure in a December 18, 2018 Facebook post.

Google Maps

Locals still talk about the great food at Torres.

There are a few places that offer good Mexican food in Montana, but there are only a handful that serve truly great Mexican food. Torres Cafe was one of them. I caught up with "Mrs. Torres," Josie Torres Quarnburg for a few minutes on the phone today and she shared that the original Torres was opened by her parents on Minnesota Avenue in 1963.

The restaurant moved a handful of times over the decades. For a while, it was on 6th Ave N, then to the corner of 5th St West and St. John's. It operated from the South Frontage Rd location since 1991. Quarnburg told me their family-owned property was sold three years ago.

Photo: Michael Foth - Townsquare Media

A new distribution center is coming to the 16-acre site.

When I stopped to chat with the job site foreman (a gentleman named Ray) who was overseeing the demolition, he mentioned the property was being developed by Crown. He implied it was Crown, like the Crown Royal line of liquors, and it was going to be a distribution center. A call to the Montana State liquor board ruled out that rumor. All liquor coming into the Treasure State is run through Helena. So what else could it be? Ray did ask me if we had an Amazon distribution center in Billings... could that be a clue?

Crown Enterprises is a real estate development company from Michigan.

Crown Enterprises website says this about the company,

We own, build, and manage large commercial real estate properties across the United States and Canada for industries across the map, including retail and logistics.

A call to their corporate headquarters was unreturned at the time of publication.

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