Amy Roberts: Uptown Unfare
October 13, 2015
When I moved to Park City a number of years ago, there were two businesses I pretty much lived at: The Home Depot and a small mom-and-pop sandwich shop at the top of Main Street called Uptown Fare.
At that time, I had just bought a house that probably should have been condemned and spent a lot of time asking people in orange aprons where I could find a miter saw and 5/8-inch screws. Considering my kitchen had been demolished, my refrigerator was in the garage and the new stove on back order, there wasn’t much cooking or sanitary eating happening at my house. So Uptown Fare became my go-to for lunch.
I didn’t know a soul when I moved here, and Uptown Fare quickly became much more than just a place for me to eat. There, I felt at home. I met locals and made friends. Whenever I got a little homesick, I would go to Uptown Fare because it always made me feel as if I was having lunch in my grandma’s kitchen. And their turkey sandwiches always made me feel like it was the day after Thanksgiving.
Food was made from scratch, everyone there knew each other, and the owners, Karleen Rielly and Nivin Lloyd are family, a mom-and-daughter team. On top of that, they wouldn’t let me have dessert until I’d finished my lunch, just like my grandma.
Uptown Fare was a place where everyone belonged. Where locals gathered to discuss the things locals talk about: politics, the weather, who’s having knee surgery, who’s getting divorced.
When friends or family came to visit me, I always took them there for lunch, warning those over 6 feet tall to mind their heads upon entering. The restaurant’s low ceilings and mismatched furniture was part of its charm. As was the owners’ commitment to their local customers. Each year they gave the Sundance crowd the bird (and not the turkey they roasted every day). They employed a bouncer to check IDs at the door during the festival. If you weren’t a local, you had to eat elsewhere.
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But now, after 16 years in the same location, Uptown Fare is looking to move elsewhere. Last week, Karleen and Nivin made their last batch of tomato tortellini soup in the bottom floor of the old Star Hotel building.
"We closed for vacation and came back and were told we had 30 days to get our things out," Nivin told me.
City officials, along with the building’s owner, had concerns about the building’s safety. They determined it wasn’t structurally sound. To the dismay of many, Uptown Fare had to close immediately.
"The reaction from our customers has been overwhelming," Nivin said, noting hundreds of people have shared her Facebook status about the restaurant’s closing, with many desperately trying to find them a new place to operate. "People are on a mission to help us reopen somewhere."
It’s the second time in Uptown Fare’s history its customers have rallied around it. The first was about 13 years ago, when Nivin had her leg amputated due to cancer. The restaurant had to close for nine months while she recovered and learned to walk again.
"Our customers called and sent flowers and visited me in the hospital. But more than that, they waited for us to reopen. They didn’t forget about us or find a new favorite place. They came back the day we were able to reopen our doors."
Nivin hopes Uptown Fare’s second closing is also temporary. "If we can find a new location, and one we can afford, we will reopen," she promised.
Until then, locals will have to put the "home" in homemade and make their own soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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