The Devereaux House has more lives than Garfield the cat.
From its initial role in 1857 as Salt Lake's first bonafide "mansion," to duty as a rehab center for alcoholics, to an office for a coal company, to an abandoned "haunted house," to a burned out hulk, to the restored centerpiece restaurant for the overly ambitious Triad Center, and then back to being just another empty building, the Devereaux has hung in there.Now the big house has been reincarnated once again, this time as a reception center.
Running the show is Mark Petrey, who moved his reception center from the McCune Mansion on north Main to the Devereaux last September in what he admits was a gamble. It paid off and Petrey has now signed a five-year lease on the mansion with Triad Center (although the house is owned by the state).
"I'd definitely call the move successful," said Petrey. "We hosted 27 parties at the Devereaux House last December (and) we have had 60 receptions booked from April through July. Our business has doubled since the move."
With some 13,000 square feet of space, the Devereaux can accommodate weddings, luncheons and evening receptions for groups of 100 to 300 for formal dinners and up to 600 for buffets.
Petrey offers 70 different hors d'oeuvres, nine luncheon entrees and nine to 10 dinner entrees. Many menu items have a French influence, but German, Italian, Greek and Mexican cuisine can also be featured.
Petrey says he got into the reception center business reluctantly back in the early '70s when his wife and sister came up with the idea of running the McCune Mansion center. Count me out, was his response.
But they didn't. Before he could say "I do," Petrey found himself in the wedding business and, more importantly, holding a $1,600 a month lease on the mansion. With no experience to fall back on, he decided he might as well get good at it, so he enrolled in Ecole Dijon, a local cooking school, and took classes in San Francisco and elsewhere.
Somehow, it all worked out, and by last fall Petrey was a veteran of some 1,500 wedding receptions. Then the opportunity to move his operation into the Devereaux came along. He thought it over . . . for about five minutes.
"I'd heard that the restaurant there had closed (last June) and I'd been interested in the building for a long time. So, I made my approach, and, fortunately, things worked out."
In its short-lived glory days in 1984-85, Triad Center offered diners more than a half-dozen choices of eating places, but most of those are now closed and are being remodeled into office space. The Travelers insurance company is changing the complex from mixed use office/retail/entertainment to an "office campus."
There will still be a few shops at the center, but the only public food services will be Aunt Kate's, a breakfast/lunch cafeteria, and the Carriage House, now available for lease as a restaurant.