South Jordan • It took devilishly charming bartender Ally Durant to expose The Break Sports Grill’s affable owner James “Bam” Peck as being a Brigham Young University gridiron devotee, despite how he turns his bar into a University of Utah fan zone during football season.
Funny thing is, neither Peck nor his BYU-loving, bar-owning father is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns BYU.
Peck also doesn’t go by his given name, preferring the Bam nomenclature an aunt bestowed upon him as a child. Some of his 22 employees don’t know Bam’s real name (until now).
That’s two secrets busted, so far.
Bam asked, however, to not reveal the secret ingredient in his kitchen’s awesome mac-n-cheese. Suffice it to say, it’s got a twist that will keep you guessing and wanting more.
“Our mac-n-cheese is insane,” Durant chimed in. “It’s grown-up mac-n-cheese.”
And chef Brian Thomas, talking through a toothpick in his mouth, was not forthcoming about the hush-hush ingredients in his handmade hamburger patties before they hit the grill. He can tell you about the tomato-basil sauce and the salt-and-pepper bun that give The Break’s beloved pastrami burger an extra unique flavor for this Utah staple.
The final secret to the uninitiated might be that The Break even exists, let alone thrives, in South Jordan’s squeaky-clean, well-manicured Daybreak development.
Two weeks before opening in February 2012, Peck was beginning to believe what people had been telling him: that he was making a big mistake opening a bar in South Jordan — in sweet, serene Daybreak, no less.
It was, after all, the same city he said turned him down in 2008 when proposing to relocate The Point After sports bar from Murray. Peck sold that bar in 2009.
If being rebuffed wasn’t intimidating enough, a towering LDS temple is within walking distance of the bar’s location in an area known as SoDa Row. Opening a malt shop might have been more befitting this dreamlike suburban oasis.
“People were saying, ‘If you go out there, you’ll be closed in six months,’ ” Peck said. “I was getting nervous.”
Dave Preston, of Herriman, was one of those early pessimistic types, stumbling upon The Break by accident while out riding his Harley one day last year.
“It’s a sports bar,” Preston told his girlfriend and riding partner that day. “Are you kidding me?”
He was doubly struck by the fact it was open on a Sunday — in South Jordan.
Preston is now a regular, and he once brought in 120 motorcycle riders from his Salt Lake Harley Owners (HOGS) group.
“We love this place,” Preston said. “It’s cozy. It’s friendly. They’re tight-knit — they take care of us.”
There’s a lot to love about The Break.
Upstairs are a punching bag, two pool tables, a dartboard, foosball table, three TVs, a bar and restrooms. Downstairs there are more TVs (including a 120-inch behemoth), lots of seating and a separate room with shuffleboard, another pool table and a pinball machine (and more restrooms). Total capacity is about 300.
The testosterone quotient rises at the sight of framed football jerseys and giant posters of famous boxers and MMA fighters on the inside. Outside is an ample patio with about 12 tables looking out onto an otherwise quiet street on a busy Thursday summer night at The Break.
Every Tuesday, The Break hosts Texas Hold ’Em poker matches. On Wednesdays, Geeks Who Drink invade with trivia games. On Fridays and Saturdays, Peck clears a space for free live music on the ground floor.
The food alone might be a reason to hop on TRAX from parts north in Salt Lake Valley for an outing here. The Break has a good handle on the usual pub fare, but a $14 ribeye steak or a smothered chile verde burrito might steer you away from the predictable.
“All of the food here is awesome,” said Preston.
And then there’s Peck, a father of four and one of those rare folks whom you instantly like on first meeting. You’ve got to like a boss who takes his employees to Lagoon for an outing and closes the bar early on holidays.
“He cares a lot about his employees,” said the “dancing bartender,” Jay Aduna. “He’s big on family.”
Peck lives in Daybreak, close enough to slip away to put the kids to bed at night.
“The best owner,” Durant said. “The thing that makes us different is him.”
The Break Sports Grill
A sports bar, with entertainment, in South Jordan’s Daybreak community.
Where • 11274 Kestrel Rise Road, South Jordan
Open • Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to midnight.
Details • www.thebreaksportsgrill.com