Grub Steak owner works to benefit all restaurants | ParkRecord.com

Grub Steak owner works to benefit all restaurants

Hans Fuegi works to make Utah's liquor laws user friendly

Monika Guendner
Hans Fuegi, owner of the Grub Steak, never wanted his restaurant to be "a fancy place." He instead focused on what they did well: steak, seafood and improving Utah's liquor laws for restaurants and their patrons. (Photo by Monika Guender)

The Grub Steak Restaurant, located in Prospector Square, is one of the few restaurants in Park City that can boast the same location since it opened in 1976. But perhaps its larger legacy is its proprietor, Hans Fuegi, who has worked for years to make liquor laws more restaurant, and customer, friendly.

Fuegi has always participated in various organizations, including the Utah Office of Tourism Development, the Utah Restaurant Association, and co-creator of the Park City Restaurant Association.

"My philosophy was always [to be] involved in many different things. I never really wanted to have a business that relied so heavily on me that I had to be there all the time," he said.

That philosophy lead Fuegi to head the Liquor Task Force that educated Utah legislators, leading to two major changes: the discontinuation of the 'private club' liquor license and this summer's fall of the 'Zion Wall' or 'Zion Curtain,' where patrons were physically shielded from seeing bartenders prepare drinks.

The victories were not perfect, Fuegi said, but they are an improvement.

"It's a give and take," he added. "You get down the Zion Wall and you have to put up a silly sign saying whether you're a bar or a restaurant."

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Fuegi moved to Park City in 1980, and bought the Grub Steak in 1991. With it, he inherited Executive Chef Brian Moody and Grill Chef Greg Moody (Brian's brother), both who still work at the restaurant today.

"The first waiter I hired when I bought the restaurant was D.J. [Curtis], and now he's the head of the waitstaff, 25 years later," he said.

The presence of long-time staff members, along with the Grub Steak's sharp focus and consistency as a steak and seafood restaurant, has allowed Fuegi to work on wider-reaching issues.

"What's good for the restaurant industry ends up being good for the Grub Steak. That's always how I've tried to look at it," he said. "I've done a lot of stuff that I can only do because I'm not tied to the restaurant 24 hours a day."

While the Grub Steak doesn't bill itself as a cocktail or wine-centric restaurant, it has always had a full liquor license so a well-paired adult beverage can enhance a Kansas City steak (Fuegi's favorite), rack of lamb or halibut.

The thorniest issue the Swiss-born restauranteur has encountered is the perception of alcohol among the non-drinking legislators and general public. "Alcohol for other people is perceived to be this evil thing," he said.

It's an issue he's seen from the beginning of his time in Utah, when restaurants had to sell mini bottles of alcohol at cost, and try to make their profits from the ice, juice, or soda to mix in. "I remember there was a big change [proposed] in the law that a restaurant would be allowed to mix drinks, so I went to this legislative session. They were supposed to decide, but couldn't, because the legislature decided they needed a study on the mechanics of mixing a drink," he said. "I came to realize that these laws weren't good for the business I was in."

As he's worked to improve the regulations for every restaurant, the Grub Steak has been quietly continuing its steady pace to keep locals and visitors happily fed. That is probably what he is most proud of.

"I go to the restaurant and I look around and to see it running like a well-oiled machine. Every morning, first thing I do is read the comment cards from the night before, and I read over and over, 'we love it here,' 'don't change anything…' That brings a lot of the satisfaction."

Grub Steak Restaurant is located at 2200 Sidewinder Drive, in the Prospector neighborhood in Park City. The Grub Steak is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. through 2 p.m. and dinner seven nights a week, starting at 5 p.m. Contact them at 435-649-8060 or through their website.