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SALT LAKE CITY — A popular Salt Lake City restaurant is shutting down after nearly six decades to make way for new development in the city's Liberty Wells neighborhood.
Coachman's Dinner and Pancake House, which first opened in the 1960s, is shutting down after Tuesday. Staff said they planned to remain open Tuesday "until the food ran out."
A message placed underneath the restaurant's iconic State Street sign read: "After 60 successful years, Coachman's is closing. We are grateful to all our loyal patrons, employees and vendors. Thank you! We were honored to serve you and be a part of many celebrations with great food and service. We will miss you!"
The news of the restaurant's closure was met with mostly sadness. One person wrote in a response to a KSL NewsRadio social media post that they and other family members worked there spanning the course of about 30 years.
Others wrote about the fond memories from the times they had stopped by the restaurant to eat there.
"Oh they had such good food!" one person wrote.
The restaurant's owner, Mike Nikols, wasn't available when KSL.com called about the closure but recent Salt Lake City Council meetings revealed what's in store for the area.
The Salt Lake City Council last month approved Nikols' request to rezone 1301 S. State and 1321 S. State from Corridor Commercial (CC) to Form Based Urban Neighborhood 2 (FB-UN2). He is the owner of both plots of land.
The rezoning request would consolidate the two parcels. The rezone ups the maximum building height from 30 feet (plus additional 15 feet if approved) to 50 feet or 65 feet in some cases in corner areas. Katia Pace, a principal planner with the Salt Lake City Planning Division, told the city council during a February meeting that the rezoning for the corner of 1300 South and State State would be one of the cases where that's allowed.
Also in that February meeting, Nikols said the property at 1321 S. State, which was acquired in 2010, was in "dire, dire need" of refurbishment. In addition, he said he believed it was better off to demolish and rebuild the properties into something else that could change the "whole atmosphere" of the parcel location.
"It would be wonderful to just rejuvenate that whole area," he said at the time. "It needs it so desperately bad, and I hope it would clean things up and keep things a lot safer and better. I'm not trying to complain or brag but I kicked at least five people off of the property every single day who are doing drugs right in front of children ... it's not a good scene."
Brian Fullmer, constituent liaison and legislative project coordinator for the Salt Lake City Council, said the application indicated that a new project would include ground-floor commercial space below condominiums. The prices for the condominiums would vary.
Nikols said he looked into a couple of new options for his land, including a possible hotel or apartments. He ultimately settled on a plan for condominiums.
"I want it affordable. I'm not trying to make super expensive units there — that's not my goal," he said. "I'm trying to make the best for a super reasonable price. That's exactly what I'm trying to achieve."
The plan was viewed warmly by council members and other city officials, who agreed there were crime problems in the area of the city. Meanwhile, they viewed it as "a very crucial corner" for Salt Lake City.
"State Street is a gateway to Salt Lake City and 13th South is a major ulterior street that connects the east and west sides of the city," Pace said at the time, adding that it's a part of the city where commercial business begins to blend into residential areas.
It's not clear when construction on a new property will begin.