Main Street: tasty, tasty
May 2, 2008
Park City restaurants, in what would remind longtime Parkites of the olden-day Taste of Park City events, want to set up a line of tables on Main Street one day this summer and serve people al fresco.
The restaurateurs plan to partner with the foundation that organizes the annual Park City Jazz Festival for what is being billed as Savor the Summit. It is planned June 20-21, a Friday and Saturday, with the Main Street event on Friday. The Park City Council must decide whether to allow Savor the Summit, and a decision will likely be made in late May.
The event would be held a few weeks before the traditional start of Park City’s summertime tourism season, and many businesses on Main Street will probably back the event as a way to draw crowds on a weekend that otherwise might be slow.
Kris Severson, the executive director of the Park City Jazz Foundation, says Savor the Summit would coincide with a convention for jazz musicians planned in mid-June. Musicians would perform during the Main Street event, perhaps on one main stage and four smaller ones, he says.
"This isn’t like a dentist convention. These are performing artists," Severson says.
The Friday night plans are the most ambitious, with the jazz foundation and the Park City Restaurant Association wanting to close down Main Street to traffic and then put up a row of picnic tables on the street. Restaurants would then serve people sitting at the tables. The organizers want it to become the "worldest longest dinner/banquet table," paperwork submitted to City Hall says.
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Severson says about 15 restaurants have told him they will participate, and he expects more will sign up later. He says the organizers especially want Main Street restaurants participating, but a few others might come from other parts of Park City.
The restaurants would each have about 40 seats at the picnic tables, he says, estimating about 500 diners would be seated during the event. Other people would also visit Main Street that night, Severson expects, bringing more business to the area’s best-known shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
There will not be a charge to be on Main Street that night, but the food will be for sale. Severson plans to put up a wine garden as well. In a release about Savor the Summit, the organizers say a drum circle and street dance are also planned.
The Savor the Summit organizers want to start the Main Street event at 7 p.m., but details have not been decided. Talks continue between the organizers and City Hall, and it is unclear whether the entire length of Main Street will be closed to traffic.
Bill White, a restaurateur with Grappa, Chimayo and Wahso on Main Street, says he may participate, but he says it will be a "difficult task" because he prefers diners enjoy the settings of his places along with the meals.
"When we charge for a restaurant, it’s not just for the food in front of you . . . It’s a complete experience," White says.
He says Grappa, which is at the southern end of the street, will not be part of the event because it sits too far away.
The event is reminiscent of a long-defunct food festival called Taste of Park City. That started on Main Street in the 1980s and moved to Park City Mountain Resort in the early 1990s before ending in 1994, according to the Park City Historical Society.
Businesses on the street have long been wary of Main Street closures, and the entire length of the street typically is not shut down to traffic except during the annual Park City Arts Festival, which is held in early August. Sales at Main Street businesses are mixed during the arts festival.
Merchants in those cases worry it will be difficult for their regular customers to reach Main Street during closures, and the people at special events like Savor the Summit are not shopping, some say. But the event might win backing from Main Street, says Ken Davis, who leads the Main Street merchants.
Davis says the June timing of the event fits well because there is often a lull in business then. Tourism usually picks up around Independence Day and stays solid through Labor Day.
"It’s a real good time for us because there’s not much going on," Davis says, adding, "It could be great."
He says Main Street, with its mountainous backdrop, provides the restaurants with a showcase. Davis says the event could be a "social gathering" for Parkites and "could be a lot of fun" regardless of the street’s closure.
"There’ll be music. There’ll be a lot of people, hopefully, on the street. There’ll be something different," Davis says.
Meanwhile, the Savor the Summit organizers also want City Hall to allow a food, wine and jazz event in City Park. It would run from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. on June 21.