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Whatever happened to ... Layton’s Main Street Station and Doug & Emmy’s?

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2016 01:30 pm


Former railroad depot and beloved restaurant gets new life after escaping demolition.

Editor's note • In this regular series, The Salt Lake Tribune explores the once-favorite places of Utahns, from restaurants to recreation to retail. If you have a spot you'd like us to explore, email whateverhappenedto@sltrib.com with your ideas.

Each generation of Layton residents has a different memory of the building that stands at 200 S. Main St.

Those under age 45 or so remember skipping first period at Layton High School in favor of bigger-than-the-plate scones at Doug & Emmy's.

From 1974 to the early '90s, it was Main Street Station, serving hot sandwiches by day and steaks and shrimp for dinner. A 14-ounce filet mignon, "for the hardy eater," cost $7.50.




Prior to 1971, it served as the area's train station, where tearful farewells were said to soldiers shipping off to world wars, and to LDS Church missionaries heading for the field.

In the future, people might reminisce about the giant burritos served at Cafe Sabor; by Christmas, the station will be the Mexican restaurant's fifth outpost.

But for the past seven years, the former Layton Depot has been just an increasingly derelict white building, a less-than-welcoming sight for FrontRunner passengers stopping in Layton.

The building was slated for demolition as part of the massive construction project that turned the southern end of Main Street from a southbound Interstate 15 entrance into a bridge interchange. Using eminent domain, the Utah Department of Transportation booted Doug & Emmy's and a handful of other local businesses.

But during a review of the conceptual bridge design plans, it was discovered that the interstate bridge wouldn't work unless Main Street moved slightly to the east. The kind of late realization that's a planner's nightmare, it was more of a miracle for Layton City — moving the street would take the train station out of the bridge's direct path.

"I was like, 'Yes! That'll save the train station!' " recalls Bill Wright, Layton City's director of community and economic development."We were very fortunate. It was very close to being demolished."

Still, it wasn't a coast from there. UDOT donated the building to the city, but rehabbing a structure is more expensive than starting from the ground up, Wright says.

And when you're dealing with public money, sentiment can't outweigh economics. So, over the next few years, the city used block grant funding to renovate the exterior all the while looking for a buyer who would do right by the station's history.

Home cooking • The depot opened in Layton in 1912, just five years after the farming town officially split from Kaysville. A stop on the Oregon Short Line — a subsidiary of Union Pacific — the station connected residents to Morgan, Salt Lake City, Idaho and beyond. During the two world wars, sons bound for military service said goodbye to their families at the depot. Twelve never came back.

In 1971, Union Pacific ceased its passenger service, and the terminal was used just for freight, says Bill Sanders of the Layton Heritage Museum. Union Pacific sold the building in 1972 to the highest bidder, a man named Richard Derry, who paid $25 for the depot on the condition that he move it within 30 days — a feat that ended up costing him $5,000.

Derry relocated the depot a few hundred feet south, still along the railroad line, and also flipped it 180 degrees so its platform faced the street instead of the tracks. But the building was soon sold again and converted into a bar.

Across the street, Sill's Café was in its second decade of serving home-style food to the farmers and families who wanted a good, filling meal without paying a lot for it. But it wasn't the Sill family at the helm — it was Shana and Ted Ellison.

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