Park City restaurants staying open during shoulder season
The Eating Establishment on Main Street used to close for one to two weeks in the spring and fall. Now, it only closes for dinner three nights a week.
Staying open through the shoulder seasons is not unique to The Eating Establishment. As summer tourism extends into fall and locals and visitors venture to Park City restaurants during these months, many are noticing a difference, said Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association.
“The trend that I’ve seen over the years is that more restaurants are staying open in the fall,” Ries said. “And with more restaurants staying open, then there’s more reason for people to visit so we can keep the business going for everybody in town.”
Jeff Barnard, co-owner of The Eating Establishment, made the change because he wanted the reputation of his restaurant to be consistent and reliable.
“We’re open 365 days a year because I want locals and the hotels, concierge, etc. to know they can always send somebody to our restaurant every day of the year,” he said.
He said part of the change is due to the shortening of the shoulder season, but also because he frequently hears tourists and people visiting from Salt Lake City surprised to find that many restaurants in Park City are closed or have limited hours. He is not complaining, though. When other businesses are closed, it only pushes more clients to him.
“We’ve had times when we thought it was going to be slow, and the restaurant is full in the middle of the afternoon in a shoulder season. You’re kind of shocked a little bit,” he said. “I think the shoulder seasons are getting better than they used to be.”
Michael Goodrich, manager at Red Rock Brewing Co., agreed. Although, like every other business in Park City, Red Rock’s sales drop during the shoulder season, the restaurant’s hours do not change. He too looks forward to the time when other businesses close, because people then come to Redstone, where Red Rock is located.
“We usually see that when a lot of the restaurants on Main Street and downtown start to close, we actually get an increase in business during the shoulder season,” he said.
Fernando Lara, a manager at Main Street Pizza and Noodle, said some restaurants close for remodeling or cleaning this time of year. Instead, his restaurant does a deep clean through the night so they never stop offering service.
Business for him is driven mainly by locals, especially since the restaurant offers discounts for people who live in the area and partners with other businesses that refer customers to his place.
During the Park City Area Restaurant Association’s fall event, Dine About, more than 3,500 people participated, an increase from last year’s 2,900, Ries said. Most of those guests are locals.
Corporations also often tend to visit Park City in the fall for business meetings or retreats, Ries said. Restaurants such as Red Rock Brewing Co. target those groups with their event rooms, Goodrich said.
Ries said that the association is still trying to think of ways to boost business in the spring, which tends to be the slowest of all the seasons because the snow is replaced with mud. For now, though, everyone is counting the successes they have seen.
“I think the general feeling is that summers are getting longer and the shoulder seasons are getting shorter,” Barnard said.
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