Goodbye New Yorker | Urban Living

Goodbye New Yorker

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Now that it's gone, I've aggressively put my palm to my forehead several times to say, "Why didn't I go there more?" or "I should have booked a meeting there!" The New Yorker restaurant is dead and done. Chances are, reader, you never ate there yourself—the demographic for City Weekly is younger than the average patron who dined there. But the history of the building and the restaurant are worth retelling.

The New York Hotel building opened in 1906 with 75 rooms in the heart of Salt Lake City. This was the year in the dining world when the hot fudge sundae was created in L.A., the term "filet mignon" was first used in a book by O. Henry, and Gulden's Mustard was trademarked. Hotel rooms generally were just a few bucks a night. Market Street, where the restaurant was located, is among the oldest developed areas in Salt Lake and is called the Exchange Place Historic District. This is where the movers and shakers of the day traded stocks and bonds, empires were built and lost and lawyers prospered. The original Federal Post Office and Courthouse sat just east of the hotel

Flip ahead to the 1970s. A man came to Utah to open up his version of the famous New York disco Studio 54. He convinced the owner of the rundown New York Hotel to allow him to dig out the basement and build a club. I know, because I met the guy, and to this day have one of his business cards. He called his venture The Manhattan Bridge Co., but blew all his cash promoting the club as well as dismantling the monstrous boiler that once heated the hotel rooms. He realized his folly but decided to have a combinatio grand-opening-and-closing black-tie event, which I attended. Picture a complete dirt basement with original support beams in the ceiling. People arrived in their most sparkly dresses and Farrah Fawcett hair, tuxes with ruffled shirts and big bow ties sporting grand mullets. There was a mirror ball and lights, a DJ playing vinyl records, clouds of dust so thick you couldn't see 10 feet across from you. The guy left town and was never heard from again. John Williams bought the building and the rest is history.

The New Yorker was the finest and classiest place in town to dine during the late 1970s until after the Olympics. Many a deal was done, a birthday or anniversary celebrated there. The Oyster Bar (Market Street Grill/Restaurant) still remain upstairs on the main level, but there will never be another New Yorker.

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