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Two things stand out when you enter Cheers to You in downtown Salt Lake City.
First is the line of beer mugs, which hang on hooks from the ceiling and span the length of the bar. Each one is personalized with names or symbols, designating a regular customer.
Cheers to You
A friendly, inexpensive bar offering a neighborhood feel with the emphasis on sports.
Where » Two locations: 315 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, 801-575-6400; and 7642 S. State St., Midvale, 801-566-0871.
Hours » Every day, even holidays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Details » cheerstoyouslc.com
The second is a whiteboard filled with names that encourages customers to "Buy a friend a drink," and the offer remains valid for 30 days.
When owner and New Jersey native Bob Brown opened the bar in 1997, he wanted to re-create a neighborhood place he frequented back home. He wanted a "safe, friendly environment that anyone can feel comfortable at, from construction worker to doctor or lawyer," he said.
Thanks to a friendly staff and a welcoming vibe, Brown has achieved that goal. On a recent visit with my husband and another couple, we found the drinks and the surroundings commendable. The exterior of the bar is unassuming — a brick front with a big white, green and red sign and small neon signs in the windows.
I love standing outside Cheers where music is piped out to the sidewalk, which on this visit had me dancing to hip-hop. In fact, it was playing throughout our visit and we had to pause the conversation a few times while we rapped along to some old-school favorites, such as Warren G and Nate Dogg’s "Regulate."
The interior of the bar is large, but cozy — you can sit at the long bar if you want to be social, or in one of the comfy booths if you want to concentrate on your own party.
There’s plenty to do, with 10 HD televisions showing everything from boxing to football to news. Depending on which night you go, there’s also karaoke, which can be rather good as the bar is frequented by Salt Lake City actors, as well as drink specials and free pool.
The drinks are straightforward and cheap, and the bar also offers a good beer selection. I ordered two Mind Erasers, the bar’s signature drink, and a Red Bull, which came to $9. When my husband arrived, he asked for a shot of Jack and a Cutthroat ($6.50).
I’ve been the annoying girl in the past that who has asked for something "fruity and delicious." The bartender, who didn’t laugh out loud, made me a delicious Mai Tai. If you get hungry, the bar serves French dip and meatball subs ($5 for a half; $7 whole), and bar customers can order from the Robin’s Nest and Eva, both next door, and have it delivered to the table.
After playing many sports growing up, Brown said he moved to Utah in 1993 for arm wrestling — really!
Brown said he met arm wrestlers Bill Brzenk and Kevin Bongard at the Yukon Jack World Finals and told them he wanted to visit them in Utah after his trip to the World Professional Armwrestling Association Championship in Las Vegas.
"Bill’s brother, John Brzenk, is the greatest arm wrestler of all time and also lives here in Utah," Brown said. "So after the event I vacationed here for a week. I also loved skiing and rock climbing, so I moved out."
When his arm wrestling days were done, Brown didn’t immediately jump into the bar business. First he worked as a computer programmer, then went broke and had to donate blood to buy food and a newspaper for the classified ads. Later, he became a doorman at a bar and then was promoted to be the manager.
When the old Delmar Lounge became available on Main Street, he bought it and renamed it Cheers to You. In 2011, he opened a second Cheers location in Midvale.
Brown sums up the downtown bar in three words: diverse, friendly and fun. It’s "a neighborhood bar that is not really in a neighborhood," he said. "It’s a gathering of very diverse people from all around the valley that call it a second home."
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