Restaurants continue to open at speed, DABC axes inventory

The re-opening continues

Ginger Street - pad Thai
Ginger Street – one of many restaurants now welcoming dine in guests

If you’ve been checking the general news over the past week, you’ll have noted the unstoppable freight train that is the concerted effort to re-open. Buffets can now open with restriction while Millcreek eased patio dining rules recently. Restaurants have naturally been as keen as anyone to unlock their doors and cash registers, with a daily flurry of ‘we’re back’ notices almost overwhelming social media. So much so we’re going to stop tracking business openings; at this point it seems redundant.

It’s more and more a case of who’s closed rather than who’s open. Call your favorite business to be sure, but over the next couple of weeks my guess is that most restaurants will be open in some limited capacity. Amidst the scramble to get back to business, there’s been relatively little in the way of curbside updates, specials or family meals – what we’ve been tracking in detail of late. As restaurants turn their attention to guests in house, there’s apparently little energy for much more.

Chedda Burger - burger with mac n cheese topping (Chedda Burger)
Chedda Burger – also open for dine in now (Chedda Burger)

With all this in mind we’re going to start returning to normal programming on Gastronomic SLC as well. It’s been roughly ten weeks since we kiboshed our regular content schedule, but now feels like that time for us too, to get back on track for whatever the new normal is. That means our coverage will return to new restaurants and closures, DABC news, general dining news, menu updates and more. And yes, if we hear about any interesting specials, we’ll keep you posted, speaking of which:

Bill White Group – now offering family meals from Chimayo/Billy Blanco at their farm stand for curbside to go. More info.

Copper Onion – recreate the CO burger at home with special burger kits to go. More info.

Hoof And Vine – $125 family supper meal deal. More info.

Mr Shabu – 50% off for healthcare workers at Mr Shabu as the downtown buffet opens up. More info.

Table X – dinner for two to go, heat at home, $55. More info.

More Covid-19 dining links

Restaurant delivery survey

Best Chicken And Ribs - chicken skewer plate
Best Chicken And Ribs – chicken skewer plate

Of course many of us (me included) are still preferring the relative safety of a hermit’s life AKA delivery or curbside pickup. Right now we’re conducting a survey, looking at local diner’s thoughts on their delivery experiences of late. If you’re a user of restaurant delivery services we’d love to hear from you. The survey takes just five minutes and the data is exceptionally invaluable for us and an upcoming story on the subject. You can complete the survey here.

DABC axes 16% off their inventory

Herriman State Liquor Store (DABC)
Herriman State Liquor Store (DABC)

Causing all manner of hyperbole and furiously hammered out comments, news that DABC is set to decapitate a slew of skus. This being Utah of course, there’s nary a dissenting voice to the naysaying ninnies. Except, well, yours truly of course.

When the DABC seemingly acts capriciously, it’s part of a secret agenda to abolish booze in Utah. When it acts logically, as its done here in my opinion, it’s again part of a Machiavellian plan to keep the plebs on poor plonk. I can’t imagine there’s a single for profit retailer out there that happily keeps its shelves stocked with product that doesn’t move. Anyone remember the great product vanishing at Harmon’s years back? Not a peep.

The move has been called the Walmart-ing of liquor stores, but let me remind you, as I’ve done time and again over the years – this is what will largely happen if the frenzied dreams of general booze retail comes to fruition. This is precisely what happens in my native U.K. Sure there’s the odd boutique option in well heeled areas, but the vast majority of stores sell, well, what sells.

Names like Bargain Booze proliferate the high street while shelf space competes on cost and ABV. It’s not a popular opinion, but the masses couldn’t give two hoots about heirloom this or organic that. How cheap is it and how quickly can I forget about the politic of the day.

I would add as a caveat that alcohol delivery is legal in the UK, so the gap between supermarket homogeny is bridged by a friendly chap or chapess on your doorstep bearing mana from the gods.

Lastly I will happily recant all of this should the expulsion kick out demonstrably necessary product, or worse, a substantial amount of Utah home grown products. It’s in the state’s own interests to promote locally grown businesses and it’d be Gordon Gekko levels of greed to put short term myopia over long term growth.

There has been rumblings that this might transpire, but as of yet no one has shown me a list of those items up for the executioners swing, time will tell…

Hats off to Ogden’s Own

Ogdens Own preparing hand sanitizer for Navajo Nation
Ogdens Own preparing hand sanitizer for Navajo Nation

This local distiller has been in the news pretty much non stop during the Covid-19 outbreak – mostly for their swift footed change to cranking out hand sanitizer. This month more noteworthy news, as the team hand-delivered a 485-gallon donation of their Five Wives Hand Sanitizer to Navajo Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico, helping a community in desperate need of controlling its outbreak.

Navajo Nation is suffering one of the most severe and concerning outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States, just surpassing New York’s infection rate. Ogden’s Own started shifting its production to make hand sanitizer in mass quantities since March, to-date producing more than 15,000 gallons that they’ve provided to first responders, the local community, small businesses and regional corporations. The distillery is currently producing 7,000 gallons per week, with no plans of slowing down.

CEO Steve Conlin writes, “We are extremely fortunate to be in a position where we’re able to help people and make a difference. Throughout this entire process, it’s been our goal to be a leader in this fight. Today is just another example that shows our work is far from done. Five Wives Hand Sanitizer is here to stay, and it’s our mission is to help those in need with it for as long as we possibly can.”

I don’t think I’m the only one who will remember all the local businesses that made a difference during this epidemic…

Cheese Festival pivots to market place

Steve Jerman (Utah Cheese Awards)
Steve Jerman (Utah Cheese Awards)

This one via press release:

Last year at this time, the newly created Salt Lake Cheese Festival had sold out 300 seats at The Garten outdoor venue. The event had received nearly 14,000 likes on Facebook, and consumers were calling, still hoping to get a ticket.

So for 2020, event founder Steve Jerman arranged an additional day and hoped to triple attendance for the weekend, which one attendee called “low-key fun”. An elaborate Instagram teaser campaign was put into play, postcards were printed and an ad was taken out in a full-color foodie monthly. Ticket sales were launched, and then came the COVID pandemic.

“Around St. Patrick’s day, when everything began to close I was still hopeful,” Jerman explained “Then came the cancellations – for every major event and festival before and after the mid-June dates. The competing Chocolate and Cheese festival, the pride parade, the Utah Arts Festival, on and on until Burningman, at the end of the summer.”

Hoping not to confuse the consumer, but cued to what was happening. The Sunday date was canceled but no ticket sales were made after-everything went into lock-down. Jerman considered what would need to change, such a the cheese buffet and venue occupancy. He then considered consumers discretionary income given the huge number of unemployed, many of which were attracted to the laid back and relatively inexpensive event.

“I wanted to keep some presence if I could, especially if the venue would be open. We’d learned a lot about the virus and I thought we could still take advantage of the date by pivoting to an event where people could come and buy pre-packaged cheese and other fine food, have a drink and relax in the sun, but without the commitments of the large sumptuous festival”, Jerman continued.

So the event has been re-branded as “Cheese Market 2020” and will be presented at the original time and space; June 13, 3:00 to 7:00 pm at The Garten. A local DJ, Hitchhike has graciously agreed to donate his services to the festival, which will be close to what was originally envisioned, given the social distancing and hygiene adjustments most consumers should now be used to.

Jerman’s company Cheese Utah LLC will be on hand selling a variety of local and farmstead cheese and artisan Salami. Butcher’s Bunches who exhibited last year will be back with their hand-crafted preserves. Grandma Sardoni’s Italian Sauces will join them and a food truck, The Lost Bread is scheduled to be serving cheese sandwiches, french toast, and bread pudding. Other cheese plate food vendors have been invited as well.

The Garten’s bar will be serving location sponsor Mountain West Cider’s line of hard cider and locally made craft beer will be available. Z’s Hot Sauce has donated some of their bloody mary mix.

“It will be totally free!” he sums up. “Free for consumer, and for the vendors as well. It’s a way to recognize the changes we’ve all had to go through” (Though food demand at the groceries stores was up, the closure of fine dining venues that have traditionally used high-quality cheese have dramatically affected the total demand.)

The Garten is located at 417 North 400 West, a few blocks north of the Gateway and their bar will stay open after the event has officially concluded. Complete information is available online at SLCheeseFest.com. Interested parties can write cheeseutahllc@gmail.com or call Mr. Jerman at 435-213-5444 with questions. 

“Consumers are going to remember the companies that came through for them like the lion that remembered the shepherd in the famous fable. We hope this helps remove a thorn that is 2020” Jerman concluded.

Utah’s Own connects farms to families

Another via press release:

Utah’s Own, a state-run program, launched a new initiative – Bringing Confidence to the Table – to encourage Utahns to purchase locally-produced agricultural products and foods to strengthen and support Utah’s farmers, ranchers and producers while enjoying safe fresh food in return.

“We are in challenging times that have presented opportunities for the food industry to take a step back, assess and create innovative ways to continue to provide fresh local food to residents of our state,” said Logan Wilde, commissioner of Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, which operates the Utah’s Own program. “Utah has an incredible network of farmers, ranchers, distributors and small businesses that are safely providing high-quality food options.” 

This new initiative from Utah’s Own shares with the public three ways to become more engaged with local food and agriculture including: 

  • Discovering local food through UtahsOwn.org and purchasing food directly from local producers
  • Learning about the farm-to-table process
  • Trusting in locally-produced food crafted under meticulous food safety standards

“We hope to educate folks on the food and agriculture that’s being produced around them and provide a way for everyone to reap the benefits of living in a place like Utah,” continued Wilde. “While there is a growing concern about food supply chains on a national level, Utah’s food supply chain is dependable and secure. Every part of Utah’s food sector is currently working together and finding ways to continue to raise and deliver safe local food to our tables.”

To discover local products in your area, visit UtahsOwn.org. Follow Utah’s Own on social media and receive daily highlights on local products and details on upcoming farmer’s markets and foodie events.

Food talk

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