The old Hotel Utah has long, storied history in Salt Lake

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  • bribabe
    Nov. 1, 2009 12:11 p.m.

    Andrew Sonzini is my great-grandfather, who worked as a chef at the Hotel Utah. He met his wife, Hazel there. She worked there as a hostess. I wonder if any decendents of the chefs who worked at this hotel might have any recipes.

  • Nevelle Nebeker
    June 4, 2009 5:09 p.m.

    In my Senior year at the "Y", a Date and I went to a party at the Hotel Utah. It was held in the upper east of the building about the 6th floor, where the Mission President for the Family and Church History
    has his office. It was a very nice affair.

    Birthhome was 10th east and 1st so.

  • Judy Drake
    May 29, 2009 3:20 p.m.

    My question is about a different hotel, I think. It was an old hotel, very quaint and charming, with a fabulous breakfast of homemade baked goods and wonderful coffee. It was across the street from the Family History Library and was torn down just a few years ago. Does anyone know the name of that hotel?

  • re ABC
    March 20, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    Hotel Newhouse.

  • matten
    March 18, 2009 8:07 p.m.

    Hey Skeptic,

    Yah, the writer definitely exaggerated, but it WAS a really cool tank. When I was a kid I used to throw pennies in it, and it had some really cool (and big) Koy Carp in it. I was in SLC last year, and I noticed in the Sky Room (or whatever they call it now) that they had retained some of the old, brass decor from around the tank. I recognized it in an instant. Hey Sad Days, I have to agree with you, the buffet was terrible, a step below Chuck-A-Rama, but the view was terrific. Hey DC, you are right, Westin DID run it for a while at the end, but I'm not sure it was ever profitable for them. It was pretty shabby in those days.

  • Murray Dad
    March 17, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    Right On slbison - The Grand Dame of Salt Lake was THE Gentile hotspot, a truly class act because of the people, and perhaps the best dining experience in Utah (ah, the Roof)until it became just another product of Zion Securities. Might as well just put a steeple on the top.

  • Skeptic
    March 17, 2009 12:58 p.m.

    There was an aquarium large enough to house a pod of killer whales in the dining room? Why do I find that hard to believe?
    An aquarium large enough to merely contain a single orca would be huge. One large enough for a killer whale to swim around in would be much, much bigger. One large enough to house not one, but an entire pod, would be as big as the largest tanks at the nation's largest aquariums.

  • Valere S
    March 17, 2009 9:42 a.m.

    One of our favorite family traditions is to go to the top of the JSMB during December and look down on Temple Square and the other city lights. It's a georgeous sight. I'm so glad this building is still there, I love it. It's so beautiful and has a wonderful history. You can just feel it when you walk inside.

  • slbison
    March 17, 2009 9:26 a.m.

    C'mon... The Hotel Utah was a real GENTILE hang-out. It was lively and it was fun... but it served ALCOHOL...lots of alcohol... and was a thorn in the Churches side... being so close to the temple... and we have to mention the hookers who hung out there...

  • Tom
    March 17, 2009 9:04 a.m.

    Worked there as the first 16 year old in modern times, I was told. With Monroe Flemming - the Mission Room. When I was older, I had Monroe come speak at our ward - twice. I went to see Uncle Roscoe on Saturdays to watch him draw - he was the next door neighbor of my Mom's best friend. I worked in the Bowl N' Basket, I bussed in the coffee shop. I ate great food from all the banquet leftovers in the employee cafeteria. I watched them make rolls every day as I punched in. I took my girlfriend - now married - to the Skye Room. The host scolded me for not leaving a tip, but I had left a 2-dollar bill they had not noticed - I had held onto it for days just to leave it as a tip. My Grandfather was the president during the remodeling period - that's probably the only reason I was hired so young. My dad carried a typewriter up to the mezzanine when he was there at a business meeting, and he had a heart-attack and died. I bought a pair of shoes at Maurice Andersons that I couldn't afford.

  • Beulah Astle
    March 17, 2009 5:49 a.m.

    My husband tells me that in 1976, when he joined the Navy in Reno, Nevada, they sent him To Salt Lake City and housed him for 3 days in the hotel Utah, before they shipped him to San Diego for training. He was only 17 years old and very homesick. He is very happy they have remodeled the building into what it is now. He loves telling his family of his stay there.

  • boise/pam
    March 16, 2009 11:56 p.m.

    It was a lovely hotel, was there many years ago. At least it is still there. Unfortunately times change, use changes. It is better than a new sky scraper. Really enjoyed the memories.

  • Laguna Niguel Guy
    March 16, 2009 11:21 p.m.

    The best French Toast in the world. Can't tell you how much a little kid enjoyed having breakfast at Hotel Utah. The old ZCMI leaves fond memories also

  • SidB
    March 16, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    To a Gygi, Great to hear your memories. I'm granddaughter of Andrew Sonzini, a chef there. My Grandmother also worked there as a banquet waitress. That's where they met. I have fabulous memories of The Hotel as a child. I love that the building has remained in its beauty even though the use has been changed.

  • Memories
    March 16, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    Oh,those wonderful hard rolls! One day a colleague informed several of us that he had finally figured out how to break the rolls open without getting crumbs all over the table. We eagerly watched and listened as he took the roll in his hands, sized it up, and then held it at the SIDE of the table so the crumbs would drop on the floor!

  • To DC
    March 16, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    Well said!!!!!!

  • It is nice now.
    March 16, 2009 9:34 p.m.

    I am 55 and grew up in SLC, and I don't really have many memories of the Hotel Utah. I even worked at ZCMI when they were building the new building, still no memories. But I do have very distinctive memories of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and found it to be a very enjoyable place to be.

    I have some chairs, they are wood folding chairs, nice solid chairs. I think that they came out of the Hotel Newhouse, as much as I like them, I am going to donate them to our YW for a yard sale. I hate to depart with them, but they are stashed away in my basement, sometimes we just have to let go.

  • DC
    March 16, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    I worked at the front desk of the Hotel when it closed, and I too have many great memories of all the people, famous or not, who walked through her doors. Yes, Nelson Styles was a class act!!! The Hotel Utah was never about making money. In fact, it was not until the Church hired Westin Hotels in 1985 to manage it that it did make money. It amazed me then and still does today how many people complain that it closed, but yet very few of them ever did more than walk through the lobby during the holidays, which you can still do today. Downtown Salt Lake City is a beautiful place. Enjoy what we have, and what many people, companies, and organization (such Churches) have done to maintain its beauty and life. Stop complaining and enjoy!!!!!

  • My Sentiments Exactly
    March 16, 2009 9:12 p.m.

    Salt Lake City had a number of historical buildings and the Hotel Utah was the grand dame of them all. Such a shame the church couldn't see that. It will spend millions (if not billions) creating a new downtown. But despite that, it will still lack a truly world class hotel.

  • Thanks for the memories
    March 16, 2009 5:42 p.m.

    I love reading them.

    But who let the hotel "go shabby" so that "no one was staying there"? Certainly not the proud employees, who obviously took personal care in their jobs.

    How nice it would have been, to have such an elegant hotel downtown. What is there, now? A HoJo and a couple of dumps?

    Why can't Utahns express pride in their historical buildings?

  • Jack
    March 16, 2009 5:21 p.m.

    I worked at the Hotel Utah while going to college. To this day, it was the best job I ever had. The elegance of the hotel, the class and everything about it made this one of the most memorable events in my life. I made many friends at the Hotel Utah while working there. I shook hands with Neil Diamond, Charles Osgood, Dan Rather, Christie Brinkley, Billy Joel and even President Benson. When the hotel reopend in '93 I took my family on a group guided tour and told them of wonderful experiences I had there. Many of the people in the tour began listening to the stories I was telling instead of the tour guide who had no clue about the uniqueness of this amazing place. Nelson Styles was the coat check man. I recall tying his bow tie for him several times before he went on duty. He greeted me and everyone he knew with an ear to ear smile and "How ya do'in?". What a place! Nothing like it today. First class or no class was the Hotel Utah.

  • Sorry, but...
    March 16, 2009 3:46 p.m.

    re: " - and, walking around town, I think they have got it figured out when it comes to class and design."

    You find that great and spacious building (the conference center) has "class?" Do you also find the monster Church Office Building also has "class?"

    Yes, the temple, Relief Society Building, and Church Administration Building have class. However, sadly, nothing the church has built downtown in the past 40 years has any class at all.

  • tim
    March 16, 2009 2:52 p.m.

    Do you really think this was a financial decision? (Some things are just more important, I guess.) I have a hunch the building is owned outright; there is little doubt this business would make money as a hotel - let's just let the owners use the building the way they want to - and, walking around town, I think they have got it figured out when it comes to class and design.

  • Johny Fairplay
    March 16, 2009 2:32 p.m.

    If the LDS Church couldn't make money with a historic hotel centrally located next to beautiful Temple Square, then I am worried their new malls (shabby or not) won't be financially viable either, given the current economic climate, competition from Gateway and as mentioned above - Sunday closure.

  • tk
    March 16, 2009 1:45 p.m.

    At first, I wanted to share some very special memories of the hotel, but once again, as usual, the "comments" area has become the home for the expression of the "anti" folks. How biased do you have to be to call the area "cluttered and uninspired?"
    You also probably believe in global warming.

  • To Dear Sneaky
    March 16, 2009 1:06 p.m.

    Even if you own it, if it does not make money and nothing changes then it will go away. The hotel went away. It was replaced by what it is now. I went to the Hotel Utah for my Junior Prom in 1983. It was by that time getting shabby. But no one was staying there. So I am happy that it is now what it is. I went to church in the building from 1991 to 1994 while I went to school at the U. President Benson was in my ward. So was GB Hinckley, Marvin J Ashton and James E Faust. The building is beautiful and being used and I am happy it is still there...

  • Dear Sneaky
    March 16, 2009 11:35 a.m.

    The LDS Church already owned the building, so how did they "save" it by turning it into another church building?

    If it was going to be demolished, it was at their own choice.

    Remember, the best way to turn public sympathy towards a building, is to threaten to tear it down. That way, you get to do what you want to do.

    Perhaps the reason that only the church wants to invest in downtown SLC, is because they make it difficult for anyone else. The downtown malls failed because almost everything was closed on Sunday. That takes away 14% of the business.

  • Sneaky Jimmy
    March 16, 2009 10:47 a.m.

    While lamenting the fact that the Hotel Utah no longer exists, please remember that the building was saved by the LDS church. It was going to be demolished if I remember correctly. It would have been a shame to lose such a part of history. Too bad the Hotel Newhouse could not have been saved. It's also too bad that there cannot be a balance to the city that Newhouse attempted. No one but the church wants to invest in the future of SLC.

  • A. Gygi
    March 16, 2009 10:09 a.m.

    My father worked as a "roast and boiler" chef at the Hotel for 30 yrs. from the late 40's thru the early '80s. His co-workers included men and women from all backgrounds, races and ethnicities. Names such as Tony Ferano, "Rosy" Sciumbato, Nick Theodor(opolis), Lee James, Andrew Sonzini, Herb Norman, Nelson Styles, Monroe Flemming and of course Gerard Beunemann ("the Chef") were part of our daily dinner conversation. Dad prepared breakfast for every president of the U.S. from Truman thru Ford--Kennedy just six weeks before he died. He satisfied them all except for LBJ, who had a highly cultivated taste for oatmeal. I have dozens of stories ranging from a slightly tipsy Chef Gerard's attempt to interupt President David O. McKay's eightieth birthday dinner to Dad's involvment with early unionizing attempts and the daily frustrations of life in the basement of a world class-hotel. Dad recently turned 96 and I have chronicled much of his story in a biography.

  • NewHouse Hotel -
    March 16, 2009 9:54 a.m.

    "In 1907 Samuel Newhouse launched a significant building program in the city designed to shift the city's center from the Temple Square area south four blocks to Exchange Place between 300 and 400 South streets and between Main and State streets. In 1907 construction began on the city's first skyscrapers, the Boston and the Newhouse buildings. Just east of the two buildings, Newhouse donated land for construction of the Salt Lake Stock Exchange and Commercial Club buildings. Exchange Place was to be a little "Wall Street" with a grand hotel--the Newhouse Hotel--constructed between 1909 and 1915 across Main Street on the southwest corner of Main and 400 South."

  • Sad Days
    March 16, 2009 9:51 a.m.

    Sad days in my life when Makoffs & the Hotel Utah closed. I found it very sad that they turned it into an office building, the grand old days are gone. We wen there one night as guest to a dinner on the roof during the Olympics, it was like a Chuck a Rama dinner, horrible food and lots of big fat people pigging out.
    I miss the days of meeting my mother there for lunch in the basement with those great soups and wonderful hard rolls.
    The Grand America is a lovely hotel with great rooms and good not great food but it isn't part of the downtown. I saw some great jazz concerts at the Hotel Utah.

  • Dear "Hawk"
    March 16, 2009 9:20 a.m.

    The Newhouse wasn't imploded as a radio station stunt.
    The history of the Hotel Utah is gone; I believe the LDS Church could have built office space somewhere else. It's too bad that a place for ALL of the people, was turned into yet-another proselytizing center.

  • Gran d Dame
    March 16, 2009 9:07 a.m.

    Hotel Utah was Dorothy Parker's ("Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses.") favorite place to stay.

  • Fond Memories
    March 16, 2009 9:05 a.m.

    I rememer shaking Richard M. Nixon's hand when he stepped out of his lomousine in front of the side entrance on Main Street. Salt Lake, Temple Square, and Hotel Utah seemed much grander and less parochial then than they do now before the church ruined it all by doing away with the hote, moving the Brigham Young monument and buying Main Street. Before it had the feel of a well designed grand boulevard, it now seems cluttered and uninspired. Such a shame.

    March 16, 2009 9:04 a.m.


  • J,Jensen
    March 16, 2009 9:01 a.m.

    I worked there for 5 years in the hospitality as a hostess and loved it. It was a wonderful place to work and the people were so good to me. I have very wonderful memories of this beautiful building.

  • tenx
    March 16, 2009 9:01 a.m.

    Wow ABC you must be kidding or pretty young!! The one that was demolished in the 80's was the Hotel Newhouse and the Hotel Temple Square went sometime later. The Hotel Utah was the meeting-place were all met their friends downtown to go shopping, etc. The lobby was and still is a wondrous sight. There was a hat/coat check guy there (about 60 years ago) who had an amazing memory and never used check stubs to mark someones hat or coat. One time my Dad told him that the coat he gave back to him was not his. The man said maybe that's not your coat but it was the one you gave me when you came in!!!! He was a great man who I enjoyed visiting with many times after that.

  • Ronald Fox
    March 16, 2009 8:58 a.m.

    ABC, I think you might be talking about the Newhouse Hotel where many people stay and they also hosted a great many events.

  • JJ
    March 16, 2009 8:39 a.m.

    My visits to Utah from a small Idaho town were infrequent, but I remember that beautiful structure well. My auntie was a service elevator operator when I was a youngster. She took me to the roof top and impressed me with the restaurant, introduced me to the staff who showed me the delightful homemade deserts and pointed out the floors where "so and so" had stayed. It was magical. When I left for my mission in the 60s, we missionaries had meals in the basement. It wasn't as elaborate as it is today, but it brought back those elevator memories. However, with the current restoration, it is probably as beautiful today as it was when it was completed. Such a lovely part of a fascinating city.

  • ABC
    March 16, 2009 8:23 a.m.

    Being from Utah i for some reason do not remember the Hotel Utah....what was the name of the other hotel that was demolished in the early 80's...i thought that was the Hotel Utah??..i guess I am wrong.can anyone help my memory on this one?