Marketplace: Restaurant veterans open Crystal Park Cantina on Main Street
July 23, 2018
Doug Illman came to Park City in 1998 and immediately fell in love with the town. He left to pursue other opportunities, but always counted on coming back. Finally, he is again on Main Street.
Since returning, he has opened his fourth business, Crystal Park Cantina, located at 412 Main St.
Illman, who is from Ontario, Canada, started his career young. When he was in his 20s, he co-owned a blues saloon, then left for Los Angeles to pursue acting. There, he started a nightclub called Harry O's in Manhattan Beach, California, with a friend. They ran it for 10 years until a friend from acting school, Kenny Griswold, invited Illman to come to Park City and open the club at a building he owned on Main Street.
Griswold also invited Allan Galeano, who Illman is now partnering with to run Crystal Park Cantina. Galeano opened an Italian restaurant called Buona Vita that was under the club. That was when the two met, and it was their first of several business ventures together.
Illman opened the club in 1999. He said that being in Park City changed his life since it introduced him to outdoor sports such as skiing and hiking.
"It got me healthy," he said.
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He enjoyed owning and running the club, but a few years later he wanted to try something different and explore new places. In 2003, he left to try his hand at owning and opening restaurants and nightclubs in New York City, Florida and Las Vegas.
After a few years, he decided it was time to return. He considered opening a Mexican restaurant somewhere in town, and that is when he called Justin Armour, an old friend Illman met when Armour was regularly visiting Harry O's in the early 2000s. Armour owned a Mexican restaurant called Crystal Park Cantina in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
Armour, who grew up with his mom in the restaurant business, opened the cantina in 2011. The restaurant was doing well and he considered expanding within Colorado, but none of the locations seemed right.
When Armour received a call from Illman last October to see if he would be interested in partnering, Armour said, "Why not?"
"They invited us to join them, and we went for it," Armour said.
Illman heard that the former owner of Bistro 412, Steve McComb, was planning on closing the restaurant and called him up. Six months later, Crystal Park Cantina opened at Bistro 412's former location.
Armour, who splits time between the Colorado and Utah locations, said that he is happy to be working in Park City alongside Illman and Galeano.
"We have a good time. We all have the same work energy and we all put in the same amount of effort," he said. "It's been great. We're excited to be in Park City."
The menu is the same as the Colorado location, Armour said. It includes popular Mexican dishes such as burritos and chile relleno, but it also offers Spanish and Chilean dishes.
"We just put our favorite dishes on there," he said. "It's not a huge menu, but there is something for everybody."
Illman is especially glad to be back on Main Street, where many of his memories were formed. He said that the historic district has changed since the Harry O's days, but he hopes to attract more locals to the area with his restaurant, which he says is affordable and family friendly. The second floor of the restaurant is licensed as a bar while the first level is a restaurant.
He loves to be in the restaurant business, where he can sit down and meet someone new every day. No two days are the same, he said.
Galeano said that he enjoys owning restaurants because of the challenge that it poses, and opening this restaurant was no different. But, with the combined decades of experience from Galeano, Illman and Armour, the three were able to push past the obstacles with ease.
"It is always going to be a challenge, but it is a giggle," Illman said.