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August 21, 2022 by Stuart Melling

Those with September 8th (the start of football season proper for you non sports ball types) circled in their diary will want to pay close attention to this one. With about six months or so under their belt, Flanker Kitchen in downtown SLC have retooled their menu. The unveiling also accompanies the appointment of new chef Roman Contreras, whose new dishes more finely align with what the business is all about. Plainly put, Flanker wants to be the sports bar of your dreams. Forgot those sticky floors, flickering TVs and abjectly miserable food.

But wait, Flanker, huh? If you’re still playing catchup, let me bring you up to speed. Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club (to be precise) is a mammoth 18,000 square foot space located in The Gateway. The location was once home to Punch Bowl Social, the experiential concept gobbled up whole by Covid.

Flanker first opened their doors in the Winter of 2021 following several licks of new paint – not to mention plenty of eye popping art from local Trent Call. The karaoke rooms from the prior tenant remain, as do two of the mini-bowling lanes, found adjacent to the revamped cocktail lounge known as The Parlor.

Most notably for sports fans, the space has been kitted out with more than 60 TVs, which apparently add up to more than 400-square-feet of combined LED coverage. I can only imagine the fun and games that come from managing the remotes… Let’s have a look at the new menu then. Here are a few snaps from a recent trip I made:

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – Spicy Tuna Bites
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – Spicy Tuna Bites close up
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – pulled pork sandwich
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – pulled pork sandwich close up
Flanker – The Big Tacowski
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – big tacowksi platter
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – fish tacos
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – fish taco close up
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – vegan chorizo taco close up
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – wings over burner
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – baby back ribs
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – baby back ribs close up
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – fried pie

The stars of the reworked menu for me are the constellation of new taco offerings, unsurprising given that chef Contreras called SoCal home before moving to Utah. Selections include carne asada, carnitas, vegan chorizo/potato, as well as fish. All are thoughtfully put together, the battered fish tacos for example switch out bland cabbage for sweetly tinged jicama.

If you’re particularly indecisive I’d nudge you towards the “Big Tacowski”, an instagram worthy presentation loaded with a duo of each. The tacos are accompanied by tajin-spiked tortilla chips as well as two generous servings of roja and tomatillo salsa. The tomatillo in particular is a zesty lip-smacker and take the platter from good to great. I’m told it’s a closely guarded family recipe of one of the kitchen crew. This dude in particular, abides. Please take a moment to pause, and consider your own Lebowski puns.

Elements from the old menu remain. There are the chicken wings served table side with sterno burner and handy claws. Grab em, crisp em, love em. There are the spicy tuna bites attached to crunchy rice ‘cakes’ with spicy mayo glue. And take it from me, the fries hot from the fryer are just like those you always crave your local arches could manage. I could probably write a whole article on that alone. I’ll spare you.

Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – main dining area
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – circular bar
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – art by Trent Call
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – dining area and bar
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – mega shuffleboard
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – sport simulator
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – The Parlor
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – the Parlor cocktail loujnge
Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club – seating and shuffleboard

And hey, if your team let you down, you can turn your armchair quarterbacking into the (almost) real deal – check out Flanker’s sports simulator rooms out back which include a number of games – football to baseball to golf.

There’s a lot to enjoy here, but intriguing to me is that the SLC location is something of a test-bed for a national rollout. The Vegas-based owners have plans as grand as their obviously deep pockets and it’s a huge coup for little SLC. The Beehive base will shortly be followed by a Vegas outpost in the Mandalay Bay – handily located on the way from the casino to the Allegiant stadium. More locations will follow with similarly sportsy associations. Utah will forever be number one though, how often do you get to say that?

Flanker are currently open Wed-Sunday but with the advent of Monday night football you can expect them to open daily from September 12th onwards.

6 N Rio Grande St Suite 35, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 683-7070

Disclosure: Flanker are a sponsor of our website and invited me down to sample their new menu.

From The Gateway to Gallivan Center, events and ‘activations’ are aimed at tourists and locals

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riggers build an artificial ski slope at The Gateway on Salt Lake City’s Rio Grande St. on Monday, February 13, 2023. The slope will be the site for Grit Rail Jam, a snowboarding competition that’s free to the public — one of the festivities tied to the NBA All-Star Weekend.

By Sean P. Means | Feb. 16, 2023, 7:00 a.m.

For a weekend, downtown Salt Lake City is going to look a lot different.

You may see spaces that were vacant [being filled],” said Dee Brewer, executive director of The Downtown Alliance. “You’re going to see spaces transformed. [Places] that usually do business as a bar or a restaurant will turn into a place for a brand activation.

In the week before the NBA All-Star Game, happening Sunday night at Vivint Arena, spaces around downtown Salt Lake City will be temporarily filled with corporate activations — designed to get the attention of tourists and locals drawn to the big game and the atmosphere surrounding it.

Many of the events and pop-ups are open to the public, said Jacklyn Briggs, regional marketing director for Vestar, which operates The Gateway shopping center.

“There’s a great opportunity for people that want to experience the hubbub of All-Star, but don’t have tickets to individual events, can still come down,” Briggs said. “Because we’re right across the street from the arena, there’s going to be celebrity basketball sightings. It’s definitely going to feel like a block party down here.”

The Gateway will have two stores open for the weekend. One, The Shop, will be set up in two locations on opposite sides of Rio Grande Street, features such brands as Cactus Jack, MRKT, StockX, The Webster Miami, CounterPoint (the Utah Jazz’s private-label apparel brand) and Mitchell & Ness. The other will promote Under Armour and Curry Brand.

Brewer said he expects several spaces in City Creek Center, a couple of blocks east of The Viv, to wrap themselves in corporate skins or host events during the All-Star weekend.

“Some retailers, their identity is going to shift,” Brewer said.

Brewer compared the All-Star environment to what Salt Lake City experienced two decades ago, when the city hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

That was exciting, to watch the city come alive in a new way,

Brewer said.

Briggs compared the expected atmosphere to what springs to life every year in Park City, on the first weekend of the Sundance Film Festival. Restaurants, galleries and bars are transformed into lounges, rented out by corporations who want to burn their logos into people’s brains. And, just as quickly as they go up, they disappear when the big event is over.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Electrical workers work at the Nike pop-up location on the vacant lot at 300 South and West Temple on Monday, February 13, 2023 — one of the corporate “activations” timed to coincide with the NBA All-Star Weekend.

One of the biggest restaurants near The Viv, Flanker Kitchen + Sporting Club in The Gateway, is renting itself out for the three days of All-Star Weekend, said Bryan Bass, chief marketing officer for Carver Road Hospitality, Flanker’s parent company.

On Friday and Sunday, Bass said, Flanker’s 18,000-square-foot space will be taken over by the National Basketball Association and its corporate partners. On Saturday, he said, the restaurant is renting out to the National Basketball Retired Players Association, also known as Legends.

“The NBA came to us pretty early on, and expressed interest in working with us,” Bass said.

Bass said Flanker might have made as much money staying open on a busy weekend as it will renting out to a corporate client. “It’s not as much, really, a financial decision, as it is an opportunity to work with such a huge organization,” he said.

Flanker will be making food for the general public, Bass said. The restaurant will have a food booth in The Gateway’s central plaza, offering a limited menu, during the Grit Rail Jam, a free-to-the-public snowboarding competition set for Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Not all of the bars and restaurants downtown are renting themselves out to corporate clients.

“We’re going to be open, and we’re definitely going to be slammed,” said Russ Clark, day-shift bartender at Bout Time Pub & Grub in The Gateway, who confirmed the bar was not renting out to corporate clients. Clark said he will get to experience All-Star Weekend firsthand, since he’ll be tending bar inside The Viv.

Richard Noel and Duncan Burrell, co-owners of Bar X and Beer Bar on 200 South, said they’re renting Bar X out on Thursday evening for a party sponsored by the shoe company Adidas — but for the rest of the All-Star Weekend, their bars are staying open for the public.

Burrell said their company has experience with the full corporate rental: Their restaurant in Park City, The Eating Establishment, every year becomes a lounge for New York University alumni during Sundance.

For Salt Lake City, though, “we’re kind of excited to be open to the public,” Noel said. Among the events Bar X is hosting: Tapping a private barrel of Patron tequila and inviting customers to buy a shot.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be awesome,” Burrell said of the weekend. “There’s going to be a lot of energy. I feel like I’m feeling it already.”

Here are some of the events happening around downtown:

• American Express will open an “Outside the Court” activation at The Gateway, featuring a tailor shop for fans to customize All-Star merchandise, food and beverages from Utah small businesses, and a “dirty soda shoppe.”

• The Gallivan Center, at 239 Main St., is being turned into Central, a curated art, music and food experience being billed as “a celebration of local.” The centerpiece is an immersive installation, designed by artist Norbert Bueno and the creative team at Bandah, with 25 musicians performing above up cycled shipping containers whose interiors will feature work by local artists.

• Nike, the athletic apparel giant, is reportedly building a pop-up location on the vacant lot at 300 South and West Temple (where Club Zephyr used to be). The temporary building looks rather like a giant shoebox. Officials from Nike did not respond to a request for comment. (Nike also has put a massive Air Jordan mural on the north side of the Radisson Hotel, along South Temple between 200 West and 300 West.)

• Both Brewer and Briggs pointed out that with some 125,000 people visiting Salt Lake City for the game, parking downtown is going to be filled quickly. They recommended people take TRAX into downtown; the Utah Transit Authority is offering free-fare days now through Tuesday, Feb. 21. The Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City government and UTA are also teaming up to put some 50 entertainers — singers, comedians and magicians — inside the train cars between The Gateway and Gallivan Center, performing and giving directions.

(Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune) A massive mural for Nike’s Air Jordan brand covers the north face of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City on Feb. 13, 2023. The makeover is one of many corporate changes in store for downtown in the run-up to the NBA All-Star Game at Vivint Arena on Feb. 19, 2023.