Historic 25th Street restaurants, shops courting Sundancers

Story by Valerie Phillips
(Standard-Examiner)
Mon, Jan 14, 2013
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As the Sundance Film Festival opens this weekend, Ogden restaurants want to let people know that Park City isn’t the only place for dinner and a movie. The wealth of dining options near Peery’s Egyptian Theater — a Sundance film venue — might be one of the festival’s best-kept secrets.

But the Historic 25th Street Association intends to get the word out this year.

“Our goal is to make our street a destination spot,” said Alex Montanez, who is the owner of Rovali’s Ristorante Italiano and also the marketing chairman for the Historic 25th Street Association.

Those who have been to Park City during Sundance know about the throngs of people strolling the Main Street sidewalks and crowding the red carpet events, hoping to catch a glimpse of a big-name movie star or director. Montanez hopes to bring more of that festival atmosphere to 25th Street, while still keeping it accessible to the locals.

Ogden already has an advantage of a FrontRunner rail stop a few blocks away from the theater, for those who don’t have a car (or limo) at their disposal, or who would rather not drive Parley’s Canyon in the dead of winter.

“People who catch the Front-Runner and get off at Union Station are amazed when they walk up 25th Street and see all the different shops and restaurants,” said Montanez. “They tell me, ‘This place is so cool, and you don’t have the giant crowds, so we’re not waiting two hours for a table.’ ”

A few things the group is doing to become a bigger Sundance presence this year:

• A “welcoming committee” of members of the inner-city Youth Impact group will be stationed on the street corners around the theater to personally welcome festivalgoers to Ogden, and offer suggestions or directions if someone is looking for a place to eat or shop.

• Some association members are offering specials or discounts. For instance, Rovali’s is offering 15 percent off the entire bill if you show your Sundance theater tickets. Restaurant members include Two Bit Street, Tona Sushi, Rooster’s, Jasoh, Karen’s Café, Bistro 258, City Club, Lighthouse Sports Bar, MacCool’s and Union Grill.

• The association sponsored one of the movies this year, “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes,” starring Jessica Biel, Alfred Molina and Kaya Scodelario. The screening is Saturday, Jan. 19, at 9:30 p.m. The group will give away tickets on its Facebook page and/or website, www.Historic25.com.

“We usually don’t get as many big directors or stars coming up here. But if we sell out, the festival will be more likely to add more movies and bring more people up here,” he said.

Montanez said the group hopes to attract smaller film festivals to Ogden in the future, so that the area will become known as a cinema destination.

• Some restaurants will be offering “express” menus where people can grab a slice of pizza or a calzone and still make it to their movie on time.

“Our motto is, why settle for fast food when you can have good food fast?” Montanez said.

Montanez hopes that the locals will come to 25th Street to soak up some of the festival atmosphere.

“We believe in the locals, and when Sundance comes, that doesn’t mean we push them aside,” he said, “Part of our concept of ‘celebrate cinema’ is for the locals as well.”

The film festival comes at a good time of year for restaurants, which could use a boost in business after the holiday bustle is past.

“We love Sundance!” said Kym Buttschardt, co-owner of Rooster’s and Union Grill on Historic 25th Street. “I am always proud when guests are blown away at the quality of our beautifully restored theater and the Historic 25th Street dining options.”

Valerie Phillips blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.

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