North Temple is poised to become a grand boulevard entry into downtown Salt Lake City.
Three months ahead of schedule, the North Temple Viaduct has reopened. While construction on the Westbound Trax line extension to the airport continues, the businesses owners are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the main artery is once again connected to the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. “We knew we just had to hang in there for awhile,” says Diamond Lil’s Manager Laurie Hurtado. She adds that their lunch crowd has already improved significantly. Their lunch buffet “$12 for all-you-can-eat ribs on Thursday.” has always been their lure to attract customers in the daytime, “it was very slow at times…but we had a great lunch crowd today.”
City Planners are imagining North Temple to become a “grand boulevard” and a beautiful entryway into Salt Lake City via the coming Trax line that will extend to the Salt Lake City International Airport. While the west-side of Salt Lake City has its charms, investment in the area has proven difficult.
The large grocery store space at 900 West North Temple has changed from Albertsons to Fresh Market to Viva Market all in just the past three years. Viva Market opened last March despite the hardships of prior tenants. Viva store Manager Salvadore Avina believes about half of the population of the area is Hispanic and Fresh Market failed because they didn’t cater to the Hispanic community.
Avina added they have already seen more first-time customers since the viaduct was completed. The the Viva grocery store offers 3 tacos for 99 cents and a large variety of salsas, ceviche and pico de gallo and a huge variety of Mexican menu items. The proximity of the market to Utah’s most famous Mexican restaurant seems fitting.
Red Iguana Manager Erin Green says although they saw a significant decline in business throughout construction, their loyal customers kept them busy for dinner. Red Iguana opened a second location on the west-side 866 West South Temple just six months before construction began. According to manager Erin Green both locations have seen a significant increase in customers since construction was completed.
Mestizo Coffee shop is located at 631 West North Temple and is operated by Artist Ruby Chacon and Terry Hurst, they have built a community gathering place that hosts art shows, poetry jams, live music and community arts projects. Terry Hurst was an outspoken critic of the initial plans of the viaduct and voiced his opinions at City Planning meetings to ensure that the bridge remain viable for pedestrians. Hurst was unavailable for comment, but on their website they thank their customers for their loyal support throughout construction.
Read a previous story on Mestizo Coffee Shop
This story is from the September 2011 issue of Utah Stories Magazine.