El Chubasco to open location in Utah Jazz’s Vivint Smart Home Arena | ParkRecord.com

El Chubasco to open location in Utah Jazz’s Vivint Smart Home Arena

Restaurant says deal amounts to a slam dunk

About six months ago, the owners of Park City's El Chubasco restaurant and its sister location El Chubasco to Go, began exploring the possibility of expanding into the Salt Lake City area.

The location they ultimately selected promises to be a slam dunk.

The restaurant recently announced it will be coming soon to the main mezzanine of Vivint Smart Home Arena, best known as the home of the Utah Jazz, as part of a multi-million dollar renovation of the facility. Jeff Schwartz, who owns El Chubasco with his wife, said the location will feature both a traditional sit-down dining area, as well as an option for customers to grab their food and return to their seats in the arena. It is slated to be open by the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season.

Schwartz, who took over El Chubasco from its original owner about three years ago, said he didn't seek out the arena; rather, representatives from the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, which owns the Jazz, approached him. Stunned, he worked through the calculations. Assuming the arena is 60 percent full for all of the events it hosts — a conservative estimate — he found that he could expose the restaurant to nearly two million people each year.

For a restaurant like El Chubasco, an opportunity like that is invaluable, he said.

"I said, 'OK, I can get 1.8 million people to walk by my restaurant at the least," he said. "I thought it was a great opportunity to get to Salt Lake. … I think it's a testament to El Chubasco. It speaks volumes about the product we have, as well as what Park City thinks of our restaurants. It's known well enough that the Jazz would want us to come down and be part of the arena. It's crazy, absolutely crazy."

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As excited as Schwartz is about his restaurant being at Vivint Smart Home Arena, his plans for the Salt Lake area don't stop there. He said he intends to use demographic information about customers from ticket sales at the arena to plot another Salt Lake location.

"If there are a lot of people coming from Sugar House, well I know where I need to be," he said. "It's a great entry point and to let everyone in Salt Lake know about us. If they see our brand and have our good food and good service, they'll walk out and say, 'Gosh, why don't they have another place in Salt Lake?' We're going to leverage that."

Coincidentally, the offer from the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies came as two Park City High School students, Trevor Cook and Charlie Black, were trying to persuade Schwartz to open a location near the arena after doing extensive research on areas where the restaurant could expand into Salt Lake as part of a project for the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies program.

Schwartz was initially resistant, but said their work was compelling and opened his eyes to the viability of the area.

"It was pretty amazing, the way they approached it and tackled it and the amount of information they got," he said.

David Feasler, a teacher in the PCCAPS program, said Black and Cook were delighted at the news El Chubasco would be going into the arena after spending months exploring factors in the area, such as foot traffic, competing restaurants and the availability of commercial space.

"They were excited," he said. "Throughout the semester, they weren't sure whether their research was real or not, then they got the email from Jeff that he's actually doing it. They were like, 'Wow, we were working on something that was very real.' … Their research at least gave him a lot of information about the area there."