Renovation set for revered Little America Coffee Shop
Dining • New interior, expanded patio, but same menu on tap for iconic SLC spot.
Published: May 10, 2013 08:41AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:31PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Little America is planning to close its coffee shop for a remodel. Photographed in Salt Lake City, Tuesday May 7, 2013.

The pink vinyl seats and floral wall hangings may disappear, but the coconut pie topped with fresh cream and chocolate will stay put as the Little America Coffee Shop undergoes a six-month renovation.

On Monday, the restaurant will close for remodeling. However, breakfast, lunch and dinner will still be available next door in the steakhouse dining room. The renovation takes place at the same time the first floor of the downtown hotel, 500 South Main, also receives a face-lift.

When the space reopens in November, the menu should look the same. The Friday night halibut special will still be there, so will the popular chicken noodle soup, fluffy rolls and all sort of comfort foods for which the restaurant is known.

“If we take that menu out of there, we’ll have a riot down here,” Executive Chef Bernhard Götz said Tuesday. “I can’t even change the coffee in there.”

The shop will be serving customers on Sunday, May 12, for Mother’s Day.

It may be located in a hotel, but most of the coffee shop patrons are locals. It’s a favorite spot for Utah families, retirees, business and government leaders, and even LDS President Thomas S. Monson.

Sharon Stokes and Linda Water have been eating at the Coffee Shop since they were children. They’d go for lunch after watching the July 24th parade and now take their grandchildren.

They like the central location, the Frank Sinatra music, and the food. On a recent morning, Waters was enjoying “The Traveler” breakfast with scrambled eggs, diced ham and cottage potatoes while Stokes had the eggs Benedict.

“The silverware hasn’t changed. The food is excellent,” said Waters, 50, of Sandy. “The ambiance is really nice. It’s just a feeling when you go there, it’s always been …”

“Consistent,” chimed in Stokes, 48, of Midvale.

Many travelers and celebrities have enjoyed a cup of coffee or a steak dinner in the restaurant, too. During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, humorist David Sedaris declared to a Tribune reporter “there’s no place I’d rather be than the coffee shop in Little America.”

Bruce T. Fery, chief executive officer of the Grand America Hotels & Resorts, said when the coffee shop reopens it will still have a warm and comfortable feel.

“It’s like walking into your own living room or family room. We won’t lose that.”

The restaurant renovations — the decor is still being decided — are part of a larger overhaul, whose price tag has not been set. The east side hotel entrance will move closer to the middle of Main Street. There will be an expanded lounge, and the retail shops will open to the perimeter of the lobby for “meandering, boutique-like shopping,” Fery said.

Renovation of the steakhouse is expected to begin in January.

At the Coffee Shop, the outdoor patio will be expanded from 15 seats to 60. An overhead trellis and misting system will be added for more comfortable summer dining, and a fireplace and radiant heaters will be installed for cooler nights.

The booths will be bigger. Customers will still be able to sit at the counter, but the noise from the kitchen will be reduced.

And it will have an “old diner-style look,” said Götz, with pies, such as strawberry and peanut butter caramel, on display.

hmay@sltrib.com

Little America redo

The first floor of Little America Hotel is getting an upgrade.

When • Little American Coffee Shop, 500 S. Main, closes Monday. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will still be available in the steakhouse dining room next door until November.

Restaurant changes • Larger booths; outdoor patio expanded from 15 to 60 seats; addition of an overhead trellis and misting system for more comfortable summer dining; and fireplace and radiant heaters for cooler nights.

Hotel changes • East side entrance will move; lounge will be expanded, retail shops will open into the lobby.

Info • saltlake.littleamerica.com/dining/coffee-shop