Yummy switch awaits hotel
July 28, 2007
Developers want to turn the abandoned Imperial Hotel building on Main Street into a restaurant, a rare instance of someone choosing dining tables over hotel rooms, usually seen as the more lucrative investment.
City Hall staffers on Monday determined that the plans fit with Park City’s strict Old Town design rules, a key step for the developers, a Park City-based firm known as Germaine Partners, LLC. Germaine must obtain a building permit.
Katie Cattan, the City Hall planner assigned to the Imperial application, says the developers do not plan to change the way the Main Street-facing side of the building looks.
She says a new entry for disabled people will be built on the uphill side of the building. On the uphill and downhill side, some of the architecture near the windows will be changed, she says. The roof will be altered slightly.
"No doubt it will still look like a historic building," Cattan says, noting that, afterward, the Imperial is expected to remain on the National Register of Historic Places.
Andrea Kalmanovitz, from Germaine, says the developers want to create a 6,500-square-foot organic restaurant. Michael DeMaria, who will be the chef and is a partner in the restaurant, to be called 6 Spoons on Main, says he will serve American food. Steaks, hamburgers and rotisserie chickens will be menu items. He says entree prices will range from the low teens to the low $30s.
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The chef wants to debut the restaurant between the beginning of November and New Year’s. He predicts the restaurant will "do pretty well" in Park City’s competitive dining market. DeMaria is pleased to be opening in a historic building. His team, though, needed to redesign 6 Spoons four times to fit the restaurant equipment in the building, DeMaria says.
"It brings it some great character," he says, adding, "I think the building will be fun."
Kalmanovitz says the developers chose a restaurant to tap the crowds expected to be staying in the expanding number of lodging properties on Main Street, such as the Sky Lodge, which is under construction at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection.
"There is a lot of great lodging in the pipeline. I think it’s important to complement that with great food," she says.
The Imperial, 221 Main St., dates to 1904, when it was built as a boardinghouse during Park City’s silver-mining heyday. Its recent history is significant through its role as a bargaining chip in what were long-running talks between City Hall and the Air Force about opening a military hotel in Park City.
The local government bought the Imperial and two smaller properties in a foreclosure sale in 2003 from the federal Small Business Administration for $875,000.
City Hall wanted to trade the Imperial to the Air Force in exchange for coveted open space. The two sides could not reach a deal, and City Hall put the Imperial on the market, receiving four bids and agreeing on a $3,050,000 price tag. The local government preferred to not stay in the hotel business. The Summit County Assessor’s Office values the Imperial at $1,542,233, and property taxes on the building in 2007 are estimated at $12,865.28.
The Imperial renovation would continue a run of heavy private-sector investment on Main Street, the best-known street in Park City and a strip that attracts big crowds during the ski season and the summer. Even against widening competition from places like Redstone Towne Center and the North of Main district, Main Street continues to enjoy strong sales.
Bill White, who owns Grappa, the upscale Italian restaurant just uphill from the Imperial, cautions the developers not to expect big profits. He notes nice restaurants typically pull in profits of between 5 and 8 percent, and White says Park City’s restaurants are seasonally busy, like other sectors of the local economy.
"If it has to be a financial success, it’s an uphill battle," White says.
White, though, explains restaurants frequently open in clusters. A restaurant in the Imperial building would compete with Grappa, White acknowledges, but he prefers the idea to the Imperial’s former status as a hotel.
"It’s a beautiful building they can probably turn into something gorgeous," White says.