Marketplace: After years in the industry, restauranteur opens Hearth and Hill
Brooks Kirchheimer named the first restaurant he opened Sharkey’s. He served invisible food to his most loyal guests, his sisters and parents, and dreamed of one day being an adult who could own a restaurant and serve real food to real customers.
Kirchheimer never forgot his 7-year-old desires and, this year, he opened the restaurant Hearth and Hill. The establishment serves contemporary American dishes at 1153 Center Drive in Newpark. It opened on Dec. 16. Kirchheimer has been in the restaurant industry in California, Park City and Hawaii for several years. He jumped into his first job when he was 15 years old, working in a café in Los Angeles County.
He worked at the café throughout high school before leaving to study hotel and restaurant management at the University of Denver.
As he tossed his graduation cap, Montage Hotels and Resorts recruited him to work at its new property in Beverly Hills. He was the assistant manager at The Rooftop Grill at the five-star hotel. He rose through the ranks to become the manager of room service at the hotel and, two years later, he helped the company open the restaurants in another project — the Montage Deer Valley.
Kirchheimer was familiar with Park City because he had visited the town for ski trips in the past. His parents had purchased a second home in Deer Valley a few years earlier as well, so he was happy to be in a familiar ski town.
He enjoyed working at the Montage for a few years, but a new opportunity pulled him onto Main Street. He became the general manager of Robert Redford’s restaurant Zoom. He helped build its reputation as he established his own presence in town.
But, two and a half years later, his wife was offered a position in Maui, Hawaii. Kirchheimer and his wife moved to the island, where he worked as the assistant general manager of the restaurant Merriman’s.
Around that time, Kirchheimer’s father retired from his job in finance and started spending more time in the family’s Park City home. It was not long before Kirchheimer’s father considered buying a restaurant so he could try his hand in the industry. Kirchheimer was eager to join him.
“I called him up one day and said, ‘Why am I working for someone else in Hawaii when you’re living out my dream in Park City and looking at buying a restaurant?’” Kirchheimer said.
Kirchheimer and his wife returned to Park City to pursue his dream with his dad. The father and son duo weighed the costs and benefits of purchasing an existing restaurant or opening a new one. At the beginning of 2018, they opted for the latter.
“We finally decided, ‘Let’s stop trying to buy someone else’s mess and let’s create our own mess and create our own crazy restaurant,’” Kirchheimer said.
The first decision made about the establishment was that it would be a dining spot for locals, Kirchheimer said. He chose the name Hearth and Hill for the restaurant because people congregate around hearths in homes, and the ski hill is a big gathering spot for Parkites.
Kirchheimer selected the location in Newpark so it was closer to Park City-area residents. He and his dad signed a lease in March and began construction in August.
The next few months were spent designing the menu — which has recipes from around the world — and choosing silverware, work uniforms and décor.
“There are thousands of decisions that were made over the last four months to develop this restaurant,” Kirchheimer said. “It’s pretty crazy, but it’s fun.”
After working at other people’s restaurants his whole life, he is glad to have a business that is all his own. Aspects that are important to him get priority, such as creating a local vibe. A vertical American flag painted near the restaurant’s entrance pays tribute to the McPolin Barn’s flag, and a railroad tie under the bar gives a nod to the city’s mining history.
Local bands are expected to play live music three times a week year-round, and the restaurant is donating $1 from every child’s entrée sale to the nonprofit EATS Park City, which provides healthy food options for students in Park City School District.
The restaurant also uses local ingredients from farms and businesses in Summit County and the Salt Lake Valley. Sustainability was another critical piece of the restaurant for Kirchheimer. Food scraps and paper products are sent to a composting facility in Salt Lake City.
Despite the stress of opening a restaurant, Kirchheimer is glowing. With a smile on his face, he said he hopes to open more restaurants down the road and, one day, form his own restaurant group.
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