There are two things a city should never be lacking and that’s good tacos and beer. Although Ogden has some great taco carts and breweries, options are a little more sparse outside the non-historic district.
Ogden’s new Riverbend development project, currently in construction along Ogden River between 18th and 20th streets west of Washington Boulevard, recently became home to Northern Utah’s newest brewery, Ogden River Brewing (ORB), which opened in October last year. Now, Wimpy and Fritz are anticipating a move into the space next door.
Wimpy and Fritz started slinging Southern California-style tacos in Ogden, where owners Lane Montoya and Brian Zinsmann hail from, in 2018 at Farmers Market Ogden after Montoya couldn’t find a taco on Historic 25th Street. Starving, he walked up and down the farmers market unable to find anything he really wanted.
Soon after, he and Brian, longtime friends who met years ago working for Gastronomy Inc.’s restaurants — Cafe Pierpont, Market Street Grill, Oyster Bar — in Salt Lake, were talking about starting a taco booth at the farmers market over beers in the backyard.
Since that first taco was sold at the farmers market, Wimpy and Fritz took off. Almost overnight, they were selling out at community events and from the taco truck traversing town.
They were filling a void, not only for quick, street-style tacos on 25th Street during the market, but Montoya and Zinsmann were behind the grill all over the city, at every Farmers Market Ogden, Ogden Twilight Concerts, Harvest Moon Celebrations, Alleged bar rooftop dance parties … anywhere the people were, making friends of strangers and serving up fresh new flavors in their authentic California surf-skateboard style.
When the community responds so enthusiastically to something you’re doing, you lean into it. People loved their tacos. “That’s why we went the way we did,” said Zinsmann.
Before the Riverbend development, Zinsmann and Montoya had been offered locations for a fixed restaurant space, but they say nothing “felt right.” Then developer Bryan Wrigley of Lotus Development, who had recently become a good friend, approached them about the location on the river next to Ogden River Brewing, and they knew immediately it was perfect.
It was a prime spot with affordable rent and a brand new building, along with Wrigley’s community-minded vision that matches their own. “It was like affordable housing on the river. He cares,” Zinsmann said.
“Everything that is in this restaurant is mine and Brian’s,” Montoya said. From the kitchen details to the 500 square foot patio, the new Wimpy and Fritz space was created alongside the architects who welcomed input from the business owners.
This summer, hopefully by August, Wimpy and Fritz will be dishing up their Al Pastor, Carne Asada, Smoked Carnitas, vegan Jacked Up tacos, signature margaritas, palomas, special brews (in collaboration with ORB) and more every day on the southside of Ogden River.
“You can have taco Tuesday all you want,” Montoya said. “We have tacos every day.”
Beer every day is also the new reality for residents in the new Riverbend development. New townhouses are under construction directly west from ORB, and Wimpy and Fritz along with Dirty Bird and Sweet Talk coming later this year. ORB is within walking distance for people, a great benefit of the location.
Now people can have a beer without having to worry about getting home, said ORB owner/brewmaster Pat Winslow.
Winslow, a retired train conductor of 42 years, was sought out by Wrigley who loved the idea of a brewery in the Riverbend development, and the two became partners. Winslow had planned to utilize an old warehouse that sits on the property where Becker Brewing Malting Company once stood as Utah’s longest continuously operating brewing company. It was perfect for his brewery vision, for which he secured the old Becker Brewing label.
But when building permits and code requirements ultimately deemed it impossible, the nearby empty field south of the river on Park Avenue in the nearby Riverbend development was a great second option.
Since opening in October last year, Winslow has seen his long-held dream unfold after years of perfecting the art of craft brew at his home. The “best beer in Ogden,” as people often refer to it, was made possible with a Kickstarter campaign that raised well over its fundraising goal.
People wanted more good beer in Ogden, and they wanted Winslow to do it. Now he’s running around ORB daily, talking to people, asking for feedback on the beer and food, and giving away hugs. And he doesn’t mind the long hours. “I love people,” he said. “It’s not a job if you like it.”
The ORB Beer Store is being built next door, due sometime this summer, where cold cans of Winslow’s array of beers can be purchased — staples like Hazy IPA, Scottish ales, Aviator (wheat beer), Pale Ale, Coffee Milk Stout, and with special brews on rotation like Lemon-Basil Gose, German and New Zealand pilsners. An American light lager is upcoming.
Winslow is highly anticipating the launch of his reproduced version of the Becker’s Best and Becker’s Mellow lines. Based on conversations with railroad workers who drank the historic beer, old journals and documents in the archives at University of Utah, and knowing Becker Brewing did its own malting using regional grains, he is working to recreate the old brew sans a recipe.
He’d like to put a water wheel in the river to generate electricity but the idea hasn’t garnered city support. Until then, it is hoped that better stewardship and enjoyment of Ogden River, and more diversity to the craft beer and food community of Ogden, will be a lasting outcome.
Lane Montoya plans to make sure of it. “We’re always going to try to do for the community,” he said. “It’s just how it is.”
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