Utah Stories

A New Chapter for Sugar House’s Original Fiddler’s Elbow

New owners take over a Sugar House long-standing establishment. While they are making changes, they are also keeping the things people have always loved. Fans will still find favorite pizza and pasta dishes.


Sitting down with Lynn Katoa to talk about what Sugar House looked like a few decades ago is like a high school reunion — but happily situated in a sports bar on the corner of 2100 S. and 1100 E. (Highland Drive and Wilmington Avenue).

Katoa, along with Sean Rawlings and silent partner Dan Prins, are the new owners of Fiddler’s Elbow and what was previously Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta. In the short two months they’ve owned these long-time Sugar House establishments, they’ve made some significant changes — perhaps most notably renaming the bar portion of the business, previously called Fiddler’s Elbow, to The Locker Room. The Fiddler’s name has been moved to the restaurant that was always Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta. And The Locker Room is now Utah’s only gay sports bar.

It’s a niche that’s been unfulfilled in the LBGTQ community, as none of the other gay bars in the city are focused on sports. “We want to have this space be a gay space so our legacy will be something that we brought here,” Katoa explains. “We’re here for what we’re going to be able to create for the [general] community and for our community.”

Fiddler’s has been a mainstay in Sugar House, and even with all the changes, the new owners are adamant about preserving and growing the establishments’ rich history and legacy. 

Katoa and Prins both grew up in the area, attending Highland High just up the road. Rawlings and Katoa are diligently meeting with other long-time Sugar House business owners to form a powerhouse team of small businesses that will celebrate and preserve the Sugar House vibe residents and visitors have always flocked there to enjoy.

Yet change is always difficult, say Katoa and Rawlings, from a table near the patio at The Locker Room. Gone are the college flags that lined the rafters. Upgraded are all-new TVs and an advanced sound system so customers feel like they are practically in the sports stadium of their choice, or able to clearly hear the live music frequently on tap. A kitchen renovation and brightening of the restaurant will be completed by mid-November, enabling Fiddler’s to begin serving breakfast — a meal that’s sorely lacking in the area.

Fans of many of the pizza and pasta dishes that have been coming out of the kitchen since 1992 will remain on the Fiddler’s Elbow menu. Fear not to those who love the black and bleu garlic burger — it’s a staple. New are daily flatbread offerings and a selection of crumpets topped with savory choices such as lox or pesto, and sweet offerings like banana and Nutella with slivered almonds and caramel not seen anywhere else in the city. 

They’ve also teamed up with Dented Brick Distillery to stock as many local spirits as possible in an effort to support a fellow local business. “Mark is a good human,” says Rawlings. “We have a mission that aligns and we can be successful together.”

Lynn Katoa, one of the new owners of Fiddler’s Elbow and The Locker Room.

The Locker Room will soon debut a late-night menu of pizza and snacks served from 1-3:30am, and the tailgate drag brunch buffet on Saturdays from 10am-2pm has been a huge draw. “We have a really good sports following,” explains Rawlings. “We are making a point of planning events around Utah football games.”

The goal, says Katoa, is to be able to sit down with friends and enjoy a game and be able to chat over drinks and bar food in a safe and welcoming space.

They’re also focused on bringing both old and new customers back to the neighborhood with events that bring people in every night of the week — from NFL and other professional sports to DJs and live entertainment.

With potential seating for 200 in The Locker Room, the new owners also plan to build a new stage area for live music performances and expand the patio further in preparation for a Sugar House Pride celebration they intend to centralize in their parking lot and the restaurant and bar.

It’s all part of building an inclusive community, say Katoa and Rawlings. And that “chosen family” dynamic starts with the employees of Fiddler’s Elbow and The Locker Room. They retained as many of their 31 employees that wanted to stay with the restaurant and bar, and offered everyone raises.

“We want the best employees so we want to treat them the best,” explains Rawlings. 

“We want them to come and stay.” Katoa continues, “We’re giving them PTO and looking into health insurance in the next year. We want to take care of our people. This industry is hard.”

While Katoa and Rawlings had just 29 days between seeing Fiddler’s for sale and becoming the new owners, their plans for the restaurant and bar are both grand and comforting. Their desire is to bring the vibe and soul of SugarHouse back to the area through their welcoming brand of hospitality is commendable.

Fiddler’s Elbow has been an integral part of the SugarHouse community for decades, and this new chapter is sure to be filled with great food, drinks, and a welcoming ambiance where all voices can be heard in a safe space.

Feature Image: The Black & Bleu Garlic Burger. Photo by Kaelyn Korte.

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