Last month we lead an informal blog and survey asking what restaurants need to be in Salt Lake City, and where. It is the start of a great conversation about our City’s vitality and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

Salt Lake City’s food scene is on the rise. We are grateful for the innovation and deliciousness happening in the Capital City. But we’re also curious to know … which restaurant, coffee shop, or other eating/drinking establishment should open in SLC (and what neighborhood)?

Our strong economy attracts people from other states and abroad. Chain restaurants naturally offer more name recognition, but it’s those treasured mom-and-pop places that make urban areas so special.  So, we were curious, are we missing anything?

Many of the comments from social media revealed a strong preference for non-chain restaurants. And to protect the treasures we have now. We couldn’t agree more! Salt Lake City has an upper hand when it comes to foodie restaurant culture, and many of us want to keep it that way.

The survey was a great conversation piece — we started with a quick internal survey to get a list going then left it open ended for suggestions. Here’s what over 240 responses revealed, restaurants with 2+ votes:


Other restaurants that received 1 vote each included:

Bojangles, Brahms, Bubba Gump, Captain D’s, Carolina’s (Phoenix), Chuy’s Mexican, Copper OnIon, Denver Biscuit Company, Eggs in the City, Happy Lemon, Hatchs Kitchen, Hurts Donuts, In n Out Burger,

Le Pain Quotidien, Local bagel shop, Long John Silver’s, Marugame Udon, Miramar, Nandos peri peri, Native foods, Pago, Pita Jungle (Phoenix AZ), Pollo Tropical, Popeyes, Pret A Manger, Pretty Bird, Primanti Bros., Raising Canes, Seoul BBQ- Denver, SLC Eatery, Smoothie King, Sol Food (puerto Rican food), Sprinkles cupcakes, Sunmerry Bakery, Sweet green, Sweet Tomatoes/ Souplantation, Taco Bueno,

Takashi, the Kouing Aman at Les Madeleines, The modern vegan, Tropical Smoothie Café, Viva Chicken, and Zoe’s Kitchen.


We were pleased to see many of Salt Lake City’s existing local restaurants listed here already, meaning it led to part 2 of the survey, which was “Where do we need more restaurants?”

Downtown was the most popular request:


While these results are directional, it sparked an important conversation about attracting and keeping business in our City.

It is no secret that incentives and tax breaks are a local government function, but you may be surprised to learn that the City itself rarely offers incentives.  City tax breaks are used for specific unimproved neighborhoods.

City programs are more about supporting our existing entrepreneurs. We offer the:

  • Economic Development Loan Fund (EDLF)
  • A dedicated Small Business and Entrepreneurship Manager, and Business Services Liaison to help new and existing restaurateurs avoid the pitfalls of management, permits, and building re-use.
  • Resources to connect with experts throughout the city
  • Policy-forward conversations and action with city leaders to protect our small business owners.

Policy discussions leading the charge right now center on rent and affordability downtown. The City is examining ways it can partner with developers to offset the rent increases that hurt small business and nonprofits (among other solutions). It’s a problem in communities nationally, and we are all trying to look for solutions.

In the meantime, a recent “Startup SLC” podcast with Salt Lake City’s Small Business Development Center talked about the art of the pivot. It reminded us of this survey and the value of looking at a fresh perspective. The results of the survey reveal insight into what types of cuisine may be in demand, and where patrons want to be.

Salt Lake City’s restaurants have always played an essential role in the business, social, intellectual and artistic life of our community. Without them, we would not have the vibrant city we have today. Like any challenge, the challenges our restauranteurs face now create new opportunities and the start of new conversations. We’re here to help.

If you would like more information on these survey results, or need assistance with your business please give us a call Phone: (801) 535-7200 | Email: