Michael Eccleston and Katy Willis spent months looking for a spot in Salt Lake Metropolis to open an arcade-themed bar. Then a good friend advised they take a look at the previous Manhattan Membership on the nook of 400 South and Essential.
The 7,000-square-foot area was not solely the best measurement and worth, it additionally got here with a built-in piece of Salt Lake Metropolis historical past. “We love previous issues and previous locations,” stated Willis, “and one of many issues we’re enthusiastic about is retaining this area as a bar.”
Their Quarters Arcade Bar, anticipated to open in early 2018, will develop into the most recent chapter within the colourful story of this beloved basement bar.
The wealthy historical past began in 1910, when mining magnate John J. Daley constructed the New Grand Lodge. Throughout its first 20 years in enterprise, the basement hosted a rotating listing of companies, together with a restaurant, a financial institution, a bakery, a drugstore, a pool corridor and a fraternal membership.
Since 1930, the area that extends beneath Principal Road and in the present day’s TRAX trains has been a bar. Initially it was the Brass Rail, a dance and cabaret membership. Later it was the Chi Chi Membership after which the Manhattan Membership, owned and operated by the Hatsis brothers — Tony, Tommy and Duke — who employed a number of members of their prolonged Greek-American household.
“It was probably the most trendy membership west of the Mississippi,” remembers Salt Lake Metropolis resident Robert Wathen, Duke’s nephew. “I grew up operating across the place. My mother labored the coat verify and my dad was a waiter.”
Wathen stated visitors would come to the Manhattan Membership dressed “to the nines,” with males in tuxedos and ladies in robes, diamonds and fur. Once they walked down the steps — and beneath the long-lasting neon signal of the New York Metropolis skyline — it was like getting into “one other world.”
As soon as contained in the metal doorways, they sat in puffy cubicles, listened to reside jazz and whirled the night time away on the enormous dance flooring. “It was the place to be on New Yr’s Eve,” stated Wathen, who remembers going to the membership together with his brothers and cousins to inflate the helium balloons for these huge events.
“The Hat,” as musicians appreciated to name it, oozed cool, and thru the years, it supposedly had many superstar performers, from Frank Sinatra and Liberace to B.B. King. Legend additionally has it that in Prohibition, Al Capone and his rumrunners stopped in.
One of many common performing teams was the Murray Williams Quartet. Williams was an completed New York Metropolis musician (flute and clarinet) when his spouse, Marjorie, persuaded him to maneuver to Salt Lake Metropolis, her hometown.
Williams began enjoying gigs round city and ultimately turned a part of the common quartet that carried out on the Manhattan Membership, stated his son Steve Williams, host of “Jazz Time with Steve Williams” on KCPW radio.
For a few years, a photograph of his father — wearing a go well with and tie and holding a flute — hung within the membership, he stated. “I can’t consider how the Manhattan Membership is etched into my life.”
Whereas the Manhattan Membership was elegant and complicated for the period, it additionally stood out for its meals, stated Emanuel “Manny” Flooring, who was the director of the Utah Journey Council through the membership’s heyday.
“Again then, there have been just a few locations you possibly can go to get an excellent steak,” he stated, “and the Manhattan Membership was certainly one of them.”
The meals, the music, the speakeasy environment and its spacious underground location mixed to create a big-city aura in what was then a small, principally conservative Utah city.
“The valet would park your automotive and also you’d really feel such as you have been in New York or Chicago or San Francisco,” stated Flooring. Besides that the Utah liquor legal guidelines on the time required friends to “brown bag” or usher in their very own booze.
The Hatsis household ran the membership for almost 50 years. Flooring attributed its success to the brothers, who have been charming hosts and knew the significance of customer support, greeting friends on the door and addressing them by their first identify.
By the point the Hatsis household acquired out of the enterprise, supper golf equipment have been going out of favor and diners had moved on to different types of leisure. Different entrepreneurs took over the area and provided hip-hop and R&B music and even salsa and merengue dancing. None endured just like the Manhattan.
For probably the most half, the bar area has been vacant for almost a decade — apart from a four-month stint as an 18-and-older dance venue. Then, a couple of months in the past, Eccleston and Willis determined it was one of the best place to open Quarters Arcade Bar.
The sport-themed watering gap could have pinball machines, Skee-Ball, board video games and new and retro video video games — assume Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Arcade bars are a development throughout the nation, they are saying, as everybody from child boomers to millennials tries to recapture the nostalgic video games of youth.
“It’s playful, it’s enjoyable, it’s totally different,” Eccleston stated of the bar, which additionally may have a menu of craft cocktails and native beers. The house owners, who acquired a liquor license final month from the Utah Division of Alcoholic Beverage Management, have a number of years of bar expertise — Eccleston at Bar X, Willis at Tinwell. As a result of the situation has a kitchen, a restaurant is probably going sooner or later.
As a part of the rework, the pair plans to revive the Manhattan Membership’s outside neon signal. Will probably be hung in a personal 1960s-themed room — referred to as The Hat — that may be rented for personal occasions.
Different items of the previous will stay as nicely, together with the previous phone cubicles, the white grand piano and a mural of the Massive Apple in an alcove.
“We plan to pay homage to the bar that got here earlier than us,” Eccleston stated.