Despite Sundance crowds, diners have options
January 17, 2015
When the Sundance Film Festival kicks off next week, Main Street will be jammed with celebrities — and tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of them — and restaurants, as they always are when the festival rolls around, will be bustling.
But there’s one thing Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association, wants people to know: It’s still possible for locals to grab a bite to eat.
While a select few restaurants will be reserved at various times throughout the festival for private parties, the vast majority remain open to the public. And despite the crowds, Ries said, an early reservation is typically all it takes to secure a table.
"A lot of restaurants are open, business as usual," Ries said. "I think that’s a big misunderstanding. I think a lot of people think most restaurants are bought out and closed. And, yes, that may be the case for any restaurant on any given day during the festival, but a lot of restaurants are just open like normal. You can certainly get out and dine."
While dining on Main Street is possible, those who want to do it should be prepared to battle the crowds. Sarah Austin, manager at Main Street Pizza & Noodle at 530 Main Street, said there’s always a line stretching out of the door during Sundance.
"During our lunches and stuff like that, it’s about 800 people," she said. "And then it’s another 800 or 900 people at night. It’s constantly busy, running around everywhere. I mean, we’re open through 3 a.m. in the morning. It’s pretty insane."
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Restaurant-goers have another factor to deal with, as well: traffic. Ries said it’s nearly impossible to find parking during Sundance. She recommends that locals and tourists alike use the public transit system, which not only eases the gridlock but ensures customers don’t miss their reservations while circling the area for a parking spot.
"The toughest thing about Main Street during Sundance is probably the traffic," she said "So that’s why I would recommend taking advantage of the transit system that we have. They work very hard to make that system fluent during Sundance, so that’s the easiest way to get around."
One option for locals who are eager to avoid the crowds is to dine off Main Street. Greg Davison, executive chef at Molly Bloom’s Restaurant & Pub, at 1680 W. Ute Blvd., said restaurants in the Kimball Junction area nearly always have availability during Sundance.
While he acknowledged the traffic on State Road 224 can be congested when trying to get from Park City proper to Kimball Junction, he said locals often forget about that area during the festival.
"Sundance shies away from us for the most part," Davison said, adding that Molly Bloom’s is engaging in web and social-media marketing to attract people during the festival. "And then locals treat Sundance like a natural disaster and take shelter at home. So it’s a much slower time for us. I don’t think people really (are aware we have availability). I think their Sundance experience is shaped by Main Street. It’s very interesting but I do believe that’s the case."
Though Sundance is likely to be hectic for locals looking to dine, Ries has one more tip: Soak up the experience.
"Bring your patience with you," she said. "It’s a busy time in our town, so give yourself time to get wherever you’re going to go to dine. Sometimes that can be frustrating, but I think we all need to remember we live in a resort town, and these types of events do a lot for our community, so let’s all plan accordingly and have a good sense of humor about it."
Restaurants closed to the public during Sundance:
Information from Park City Area Restaurant Association
The Brass Tag at Deer Valley Resort — closed Jan. 22-28
Cisero’s Ristorante — open for lunch, closed for dinner through Jan. 26
Table One — closed Jan. 23-24, Jan. 28-29