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SALT LAKE CITY — The New Yorker Restaurant shuttered its doors Monday, ending one of downtown Salt Lake’s top fine dining restaurant options for the past 40 years.
The restaurant staff of about 30 employees learned of the decision before it would usually open Monday evening, according to Catherine Burns, the human resource director for Gastronomy Inc., the restaurant's parent owner.
Burns started working as a server at the restaurant in 1979, a year after it opened, and worked there for more than a decade before she worked her way up into the management within the ownership. She said the meeting to inform the staff of the immediate closure was somber.
“(There was) everything from sobbing to disappointment,” she said. “Nobody was angry. Everybody has been kind and nice about it. They loved working down there, they loved the close-knit community that they had with each other. They loved working with Will (Pliler, the restaurant's executive chef). They felt like they worked at a restaurant with a very talented chef.”
All employees of the restaurant will be given the opportunity to work at the company’s other restaurants, such as the Market Street Grill and the Oyster Bar that has three locations in the county, Burns added.
Monday’s closure comes a little more than a month after the Salt Lake County Health Department announced that about 650 customers may have been exposed to Hepatitis A during a span in July and August; however, Burns said the decision to close was unrelated to the outbreak.
The New Yorker opened in 1978 in the old New York Hotel building, which was originally built in 1906. It was created by John Williams and Tom Sieg. Their company, Gastronomy Inc., won a history honor award for their work to restore the building, according to the restaurant website.
I know a lot of people are going to be sad they aren’t going to be able to go down there anymore, but it was in business for 40 years and it had a really good, long run.
–Catherine Burns, the human resource director for Gastronomy Inc.
It became a staple of fine dining in downtown Salt Lake in its 40-year existence. Salt Lake City Weekly food and wine critic Ted Scheffler wrote in 2016, “The New Yorker is the type of restaurant — one of the few left standing — that makes you want to show up in a suit and tie, or at least a sport jacket” even though it didn’t have a dress code.
Pliler was also named chef of the year by the Utah Restaurant Association in May.
In addition, it had good reviews online. Google reviewers gave it an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars, as of Tuesday afternoon. Burns said she’s received “a bazillion” calls from people shocked and saddened by the abrupt closure.
“I know a lot of people are going to be sad they aren’t going to be able to go down there anymore, but it was in business for 40 years and it had a really good, long run,” she said.
Burns added Williams owned the building. After he was murdered in 2016, his estate oversaw the building. Burns said what happens next with the building space will be up to those who control the estate.