Salt Lake to get its first neighborhood bar

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The East Liberty Tap House as seen from 900 South near Windsor Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The East Liberty Tap House as seen from 900 South near Windsor Street.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The East Liberty Tap House as seen from 900 South near Windsor Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The neighborhood bar is a staple in most cities in America.  But in Salt Lake City, neighborhood bars are mostly nonexistent.  Most bars in the city are in or near Downtown or near industrial areas far from residential neighborhoods.  Thanks to a change in city zoning regulations in 2012, Salt Lake will soon have its first neighborhood bar, the East Liberty Tap House.

Scott Evans, the founder of Pago and Finca, chose the 9th and 9th neighborhood for his latest project, the East Liberty Tap House at the intersection of 900 South and Windsor Street.

Evans was a founding member of the 9th and 9th Neighborhood Business District and has a vested interested in the neighborhood’s success.  The popular neighborhood already has a diverse list of amenities: a grocery store, coffee shop, movie theater, retail, yoga and Pilates studios, bakery and diverse cuisine options including Evan’s other 9th and 9th business, Pago.

“This neighborhood has almost everything, but (the tavern) is an example of what was missing from the mix here,” said Evans.

Evans realized the demand for a local bar after a 2010 survey by the 9th and 9th district found that many residents wanted a bar in the neighborhood.

“Every neighborhood needs a gathering place,” said Evans.  “This (the tavern) gives grownups a place to gather.”

The tavern space on the left and restaurant area  on the right are separated by a partial wall.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The tavern space on the left and restaurant area on the right are separated by a partial wall. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The Salt Lake City Council voted to allow pubs and bars in neighborhood business districts in September of 2012.  While the council vote was 6-1 in favor, there was significant push-back from residents living near these districts.

To assuage resident’s concerns, the council stipulated that neighborhood bars and pubs can not be larger than 1,750 square feet, with an additional 450 square feet allowed for outdoor patio space, and must be at least 600 feet from similar establishments.

Like with Finca and Pago, everything served at East Liberty Tap House will be made fresh onsite and be predominately from local food producers.

The tavern section will seat around 20 people and serve draft beer from local breweries.  Within the tavern area patrons will not need to order food before drinking.

The restaurant section will seat about 40 inside and an additional 40 in the outdoor patio space.  The restaurant will serve cocktails and offer a wider beer selection as well as traditional pub fare.

“We want to show that neighborhood bars are good for the city,” said Evans

Neighborhood bars could soon be popping up in other districts throughout the city.  Neighborhoods like 15th and 15th, Central Ninth and 21st and 21st are already vibrant areas with diverse offerings that could accommodate a neighborhood bar.

The East Liberty Tap House should open later this month.

The East Liberty Tap House as seen from 900 South.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The East Liberty Tap House as seen from 900 South. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
About Isaac Riddle 522 Articles
Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.