As Uptown Fare moves, Main Street changes | ParkRecord.com

As Uptown Fare moves, Main Street changes

For years, it happened on an almost daily basis.

Almost every day, at least one customer would wander into Doug Hollinger’s Park City Clothing Company on Main Street, saying they were just popping in on their way to grab a bite to eat at Uptown Fare, a small restaurant at the top of the street.

But that scenario has played out for the last time. Uptown Fare closed in late September after City Hall deemed the building in which the restaurant was housed, the Star Hotel, unsafe for occupancy. It was recently announced that the restaurant will re-open in December, but in a new location in Bonanza Park, in the new Kimball Art Center, which also recently moved off Main Street.

And what some may view as a small change resonated heavily with many who see it as further evidence of the changing face of Main Street.

"What a loss to lose Uptown Fare, an established little place for a lot of locals for many years," said Hollinger, who has been a merchant on Main Street for nearly 22 years. "Some of those mainstays, it’s really tough to see them leave."

Karleen Reilly has owned and operated Uptown Fare since its opening in 1999. It became a popular gathering place for locals, and Reilly came to know many of her customers on a personal level. So for her, leaving Main Street carries a sense of sadness.

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"All my Main Street people came to me and said, ‘What are we going to do?’" she said. "Because they could walk to me. So they’re all bummed."

Reilly looked at several spaces on Main Street, and other businesses banded together to help her in her search. One restaurant, 350 Main, even offered to let her occupy its basement, but it was too small. The other options had a different barrier.

"I couldn’t afford the rent," she said.

Nonetheless, Reilly is pleased with her new location. She sees a lot of positives in being in Bonanza Park, an area with much more abundant parking than Main Street, and a place that, in her estimation, is on the verge of revitalization.

"I think Bonanza Park with the chocolate factory and everything is great," she said. "It’s changing down here."

Dave March, marketing and events director for the Kimball Art Center, thinks so, too. He said the center jumped at the chance to add Uptown Fare — it will have indoor seating on two levels and an outdoor area in the summer — which has people even more optimistic about the center’s future at its new location at 1401 Kearns Blvd.

"We’ve tried to focus on the positivity and the excitement about the new location," he said. "We’re here in Bonanza Park with a lot of other restaurants and community members. We’re focusing on being part of a new environment and less on the leaving Main Street."

Despite Reilly and March’s optimism about Bonanza Park, merchants on Main Street are left wondering which will be the next business to pack up and leave. Hollinger said rent increases will make it increasingly difficult for small retailers to remain in the area.

"You see a lot of changes," he said. "I think it will be difficult as time goes on to maintain a lot of those mom-and-pop stores. It will be tough. You can’t just work for the landlords. There’s got to be a little left over at the end of the month. And I think it will get tougher and tougher to do that."

City Hall in recent weeks has had discussions about what it can do — and should do, if anything — to help small businesses on Main Street. City Councilor Liza Simpson said rising rents are simply what happens when a location becomes desirable.

"I think it’s probably important to take the long view and recognize that the community always has and will continue to evolve," she said.

"So even though I live on Main Street," she added, "I tend to look at the community as a whole and understand that, as things change and evolve, some businesses are going to have to move and find new ways to survive, and other businesses are going to pop up."