Bar Exam: Pizza, beer and celebrity sightings at Canyon Inn
After a day of shredding fresh powder at Salt Lake area resorts, local skiers and superstars, too like to stop at the Canyon Inn for affordable pizza and beer.
The bar at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon opened in 1948 and ultimately became a popular hangout known for its burlap-covered walls, dark atmosphere and nightly fights.
Jim Stojack purchased the business 22 years ago and has worked to change the image while preserving the venue's rustic heritage. Take, for instance, the brick arches that were once a solid wall. Now, they lead to a room with five pool tables, another bar and the wall-mounted breathalyzer. The machine, which takes a credit card for its $2 fee, tells you if you're over the legal limit. Then you can "hit the button and it calls a cab for you," Stojack explained.
Canyon Inn has become a favorite stop for skiers and snowboarders, and was named by International Ski magazine as one of the Top 25 bars in America.
During the winter, it's common to see top athletes such as Shaun White, Stevie Bell, Mark Frank Montoya and Tommy Moe unwinding after a day of riding. "At the end of the Dew Tour season, all the top snowboarders in the world are in here," Stojack said.
Because of its snow-loving clientele, the Canyon Inn makes every Thursday a ski and snowboard industry night. Occasionally, rails and ramps are set up in the parking lot for riders to show off their stunts. Inside, patrons can watch video clips and win prizes.
But the bar caters to others, too, with its theme nights. On Monday nights, there's a sports theme, while Extreme Tuesdays features a live DJ and has become a favorite for the college-aged crowd. Canyon Inn offers $2-$3 whiskey shots on Wednesdays and live local music on Fridays and Saturdays.
No matter the night or the outside temperature a favorite spot to sit and sip a beer is the large outdoor fire pit. In the summer, the bar's horseshoes pits are also popular.
"It has always been a fun place to come hang out and grab a pitcher of beer, play pool and relax," said Natalie Carroll, who stops by with her husband regularly.
Food is another draw. The Canyon Inn serves pizza with a unique crust, made with a combination of rice and wheat flours. "You can eat and not feel bloated," Stojack said.
But the bar's signature dish is the Popper Pie pizza dough stuffed with jalapeÃ±o peppers, cream cheese, pineapple and five cheeses, and served with marinara and ranch dipping sauces. Small and large sizes ($7 and $11) are available. A small is big enough to share and the heat of the peppers will get your nose running. Manager Zak Hurst calls it a "one-of-a-kind Canyon Inn item."
The bar draws regulars for similar reasons. "It's off the beaten path," Hurst said.
The Canyon Inn
A rustic-style bar at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon draws skiers and snowboarders looking to unwind after a day on the mountain.
Where • 3700 E. Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights; 801-943-6969
Open • Daily 12:30 p.m.-2 a.m.
Info • Monday has a sports theme; Extreme Tuesdays has a live DJ and attracts the college-aged crowd; $2-$3 whiskey shots on Wednesdays; ski and snowboard night is Thursday; and live local music plays Friday and Saturday. Details at thecanyoninnbar.com