After seven years, Mother Urban’s closes its doors
The word spread quickly across the Main Street drinking establishments. There was a party at Mother Urban’s Ratskeller; the bar was closing its doors that night for good.
Inside the bar, a crowd of its loyal customers, admirers and patrons gathered for a last drink at the establishment.
"Half the town was there," said Michael Kaplan, the bar’s owner.
Most of those present seemingly came to say goodbye to the business. Whether they were regulars or simply locals with memories of nights spent sitting on the simple wooden stools and benches, nearly all seemed sad to see the bar go. But, at the same time, almost everyone agreed, the best way to send it off was with a good party.
Kaplan said he moved to town to open a bar after coming to Park City on a holiday. Then, he noted, there wasn’t too much to the bar.
"It was a cement basement when I found it," he said.
He designed the bar as a European-style pub with a Park City twist. There was a large selection of beers, a Western-ski-town-style dcor, and a name taken from a local mining-era madam.
"Mother Urban’s has been successful, a lot of fun," said Kaplan. "I learned a lot. I love being an entrepreneur."
The night after the closing party, Kaplan seemed to remember his business fondly. He noted all of the people who came there regularly and all of the people the bar attracted.
It gave him a chance, he said, to meet a whole range of people from around town, led him become involved with local politics, and presented him with an opportunity to learn how to run a small business from the inside. The endeavor, he noted, was all-encompassing and rewarding.
Kaplan’s bane, though, was Utah’s liquor laws.
"They are highly inhospitable and are counter to our tourism-based economy, he said. "In particular, our membership rules, requiring members to join the clubs, are confusing to people coming to the town on a ski vacation."
Ultimately, he was ready to leave the business.
"I’ve been at it for seven years and it was just time, in my own life, to move on," said Kaplan.
The establishment is being sold to a locally-owned entertainment company called Frigid Mind Productions, which will gut the space and renovate it into a modern-style bar and lounge. The new bar is slated to open around New Year’s and will be named the Celsius Lounge. Kaplan declined to name the business’s owner, citing a confidentiality agreement.
He thanked both his patrons and his workers for their time at Mother Urban’s.
"If not for the locals," he said, "we would not have been successful. I am deeply grateful for their support over these seven years."
He added that he plans to remain in town.
"Park City is my home," Kaplan said. "I plan on being around for a long time."
In the immediate future, he said he plans to use his degrees, teaching international business management in Sweden and Amsterdam and on a semester at sea.
When he’s in town though, he said he wouldn’t have a favorite place to drink anymore.
"At last count we have 19 private clubs and lots of restaurants," he said. "I intend to visit most of them."
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