A year ago, Morris Daras didn't know what would happen to his life's work, the Snappy Service Lunch on State Street.
His lease was up, the property sold, and Snappy Service seemingly had nowhere to go. Then Larry H. Miller, owner of everything from malls to car dealerships to the Utah Jazz, dropped by.
"He knew the corner (57 S. State) was sold, so he came in and asked how long I'd be here," Daras said. "I said I didn't know."
Miller had been a customer from way back and would prove to be among the diner's biggest patrons. He offered to move Daras to Miller's just-finished Jordan Commons entertainment complex in Sandy in exchange for the right to buy the Snappy Service name once Daras retires, according to Jordan Commons manager Dale Harvey. Daras took the deal, and Snappy Service Lunch lives on.
On Wednesday, the diner celebrated its 100th anniversary with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by Miller. Attendees included Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan and other city and business leaders, along with a handful of Daras' longtime customers.
"I never knew Snappy would be 100," Daras laughed. "I wasn't planning on staying but a few months when I first got the job. I just wanted bus fare out of town."
Daras took a job as a fry cook at Snappy Service in 1957. He was 22 years old, fresh out of the military. Before he could get bus fare, he met and fell in love with Elke, who has been his wife for more than 40 years. They decided to stay in Utah because, according to Daras, "I didn't want to raise kids on the East Coast."
So they stayed. Daras kept his job at Snappy Service, and on May 1, 1969, he bought it.
Despite its faithful following, Snappy Service never was in danger of overexposure there were no franchises, no celebrity owners, no "theme" decor. What it had was good food (burgers and fries are a speciality, though the diner's famous spam-and-egg sandwich has been replaced by a ham-and-egg version) at good prices (a hamburger cost 36 cents in 1957, and now costs $3.99). The diner itself was just a slip of a thing, 42 feet long and 15 feet wide.
Life at the center of one of Sandy's busiest entertainment attractions is a lot different than the snug downtown diner, Daras admits.
"On the weekends, it's really a madhouse here," he said. "It's a challenge. Downtown, I knew everybody, and what they ate, what they wanted when they came through the door. Here, I'm dealing with a lot of younger kids."
But 67-year-old Daras is quick to say he wouldn't have it any other way.
"It was a great move. Larry done me a favor, letting me come out here. I wasn't ready to quit. I'm too young," he said. "I hope I've got another 10 years in me. I don't know if they'll let me stay that long, or if they'll keep me. But I'm not ready to retire."
Harvey said Daras needn't worry. Snappy Service likely will have a home in Sandy for a good long while.
"Mr. Miller has known Morrie since he was a teenager," Harvey said. "I'm sure there was a certain sentimental value there. But also, we had a need (at Jordan Commons), and it provided a value for us to relocate him here.
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