For Main Street businesses, Sundance can mean a sweet deal
The glitz and glamour of Hollywood descending on Park City for the Sundance Film Festival each year means certain realities: Traffic will be dense, parking will be scarce, and fans will flood the historic district, hoping to snap selfies with celebrities.
But for businesses near Main Street, the festival also means something else. It can be a chance to make some quick cash by temporarily renting out their space to other companies attending the festival.
Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses near Main Street, said it can be a lucrative arrangement. Some businesses rent out their space for the entire festival, while others do it for perhaps only the first weekend. And how much money a company can make this way depends on the business.
"Some do make a lot of money," Butz said. "Others do it to give employees a break. Or if they don’t feel like their product would be highly desirable during Sundance, it’s easier for them to go rent it out and try to look at the typical revenue they would receive on a normal winter weekend and make sure that’s all covered. But for some, it’s definitely a windfall. There are many people who make their rent amounts during Sundance."
According to data from the Historic Park City Alliance, temporary businesses from out of town have received licenses to rent out the space of several local merchants at some point during Sundance, including: Meyer Gallery, Riverhorse on Main, Cisero’s Ristorante, Bret Webster Images, J GO Gallery, Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery, Thomas Kearns McCarthey Gallery, Lund’s Fine Art Gallery, Treasure Mountain Inn, Root’d, Rich Haines Gallery and Robert Kelly Home. However, some of those rentals may be short-term and not interrupt the operations of the permanent businesses.
"That first weekend is the point in time when the majority of the businesses are turned over," Butz said. "Then it starts to decrease as the festival goes on."
Butz cautioned Parkites hoping to grab a bite to eat near Main Street to make reservations as soon as possible since most will be packed with festival crowds. But the Park City Area Restaurant Association assures locals that you don’t have to be a movie star to snag a table, since more than a dozen Main Street restaurants and bars are staying open to the general public for all or most of the festival.
Those restaurants that will be open include: Baja Cantina, Bandits Bar & Grill, Bistro 412, Chimayo, Cisero’s Ristorante (closed Jan. 22-25, but open through the rest of the festival), The Eating Establishment, Flanagan’s on Main, Fletcher’s (closed Jan. 20-26), Grappa Italian Restaurant, Reef’s Restaurant, Shabu, Wahso Asian Grill, Wasatch Brew Pub, and Yuki Yama Sushi.
There are also many restaurants in other areas in town, such as Kimball Junction, Prospector and Deer Valley that will be open during normal hours during the festival.
Several businesses and restaurants may be open for Parkites throughout Sundance, but Butz acknowledged that many locals have a tendency to avoid the historic district during the festival. She hopes that some of the unique offerings the festival presents, such as four locations to experience virtual reality, will encourage residents to take part in the action.
Butz recommends that locals try to attend Monday, Jan. 25 after a bit of the hubbub has quieted, but Meisha Lawson, marketing director for the Historic Park City Alliance, said Sunday, Jan. 24 is also a prime day for Parkites.
"There is actually a lot of stuff that you can do, even if you’re not a celebrity or you don’t have a credential," said Lawson, who directed residents to the Alliance’s website, historicparkcity.com, for tips on how to get the most out of Sundance. "I personally, love going the Sunday of the first weekend because it’s died down a little, but it’s still a huge buzz. It’s a misconception that you can’t do anything. It’s an opportunity to see big-city, bright lights in our cute little hometown."
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.