Let me just get this out of the way: the new George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake is going to be something special for downtown SLC. Gathering place. Community center. Banquet rooms for rental by the public. Terraces with incredible views. More bars than I could count on every level of the venue. Encore Bistro and catering throughout, ran by Cuisine Unlimited. A small 200 seat black box theater for smaller community events. And of course, the theater itself, the Delta Performance Hall, with a star-filled ceiling and red/orange colors that immediately remind the guest of the striated red rock formations of southern Utah. The theater seats 2,500, yet feels closer in size to the Capitol Theater than Abravanel Hall. Right next door (and partially hanging over the theater thanks to unique cantilevered engineering) sits downtown’s latest high rise, 111 Main St. And behind the theater is Regent Street, which itself is in the middle of a multi-million dollar renovation, and designed to be the new connecting pedestrian corridor between City Creek mall and the Gallivan Center. New restaurant spaces and shops are being built as you read this, and soon enough (October 21st), thousands of theater goers will be traveling to downtown to enjoy performances ranging from the Utah Symphony, The Book of Mormon musical, and Ballet to Elvis Lives and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The building itself is a stunning piece of architecture. Clothed in gorgeous white stone on the outside, the theater is located in the heart of downtown, and was designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli in conjunction with local firm HKS. The theater features a sky-high six story lobby, with retractable glass walls that will open the lobby completely to the outside. Several stories up, a large terrace opens up to the outside for visitors to soak in the sights and sounds of downtown.
Encore Bistro, located at ground level, is ran by Cuisine Unlimited, who is the exclusive provider of food and beverages for the theater as well as all events that happen there. The bistro will be open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and will be open before and during performances with menu items tailored for specific performances. The Bistro menu features unique offerings, such as vegetarian breakfast wraps ($5), daily quiche ($5), and fruit ($4) for breakfast, among other items. Lunch features items such as the Off Broadway Salad (romaine roasted tomatoes, bacon and Roquefort – $7.50), beef sliders ($10.50 for three), and a Thai chicken wrap ($10), among others. The Bistro also offers products from local purveyors C. Kay Cummings (chocolates) and Ruby Snap (cookies), to name a couple. I work downtown, and am always looking for great new spots to freshen up the lunch routine. I think that the Encore Bistro will find a place in the rotation on a regular basis.
Am I perhaps being a bit too ebullient with my praise of the theater? Perhaps. This place wasn’t free, and it wasn’t cheap ($119 million, most of it taxpayer money). But despite my misgivings, this beautiful building is easily on par with other large downtown projects which have played key roles in the continued rejuvenation of Salt Lake City (Gateway, Gallivan, City Creek Mall, downtown Harmon’s, to name a few). My first impression of the new theater is that it was designed to be a centerpiece and a celebration of the city. And I think they nailed it.