[image-1] City Weekly founder John Saltas, all suited up, looked like a man with a plan as he strode into the Zions Bank Building on July 10 for the Downtown Merchants Association annual luncheon. He was to be honored as a "Friend of the Retailer" for his efforts to launch City Weekly 25 years ago and his support of the merchant community.
out at the panoramic view of downtown from the 18th floor at South Temple and Main, noticing how
much of the surrounding area was in upheaval and
rebuild, it's obvious downtown merchants are, at their core,
resoundingly hard-boiled. For them to have survived the construction
merry-go-round that is their endless lot in life, just showing up says a lot.
Yet, despite their travails, merchants were all smiles as
Carlton Christensen stood in for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker (who, we were told,
was busy squiring a potential business client around town) ticking off
the city's interest in better managing downtown parking, increasing
bike lanes, helping create affordable housing for service-industry
workers, expanding light rail and carving out an entertainment district
... all promises to give downtown merchants hope until the dust settles
and people return to downtown.
But, it's clear the best hope for downtown does not come from municipal happy talk and bureaucratic pipe dreams. It arrived July 1 courtesy of the state Legislature in the form of liberalized liquor laws. Perhaps that's why the Downtown Merchants honored Saltas this year. Because, while he's certainly been a friend to retailers, he's been an even better friend to private clubs. And a friend of the private clubs is now most definitely a friend of theirs.
And while the group
couldn't come out and say, "Hot damn!"about the changes in the alcohol laws, it
did impart its excitement in subtle and symbolic ways: For example, the group
bestowed upon Saltas a bottle of Crown Royal whisky along with a crystal ice
bucket. He was quick to point out his might be the first bottle of
Crown to have made its way into the Zions Bank Founders Room.
Adding to the understated alcohol salute, in the shadow of the Salt Lake Mormon temple across the street, guest speaker KUTV's Rod Decker, donned his "folksy historian" hat to regale the group with a brief history of Utah's tumultuous love/hate relationship with booze, peppering his tale with bit of swearing and colorful political yarns.