Restaurant DJs: Fresh cuts daily is the new sound of local dining
The background music at most restaurants is usually just that, background. Music mostly comes from a Pandora playlist or cycles through the same five often annoying CDs.
But a few Utah restaurants are bringing in DJs who serve up music as the soundtrack to their food.
If the tempura Oreos at Sushi Groove restaurant in Salt Lake City aren't enough to attract diners, co-owner Jeff Handa hopes the original remixes that DJ Justin Godina provides every Tuesday and Friday night will.
It adds another layer to the experience of dining out. "'Fresh cuts daily' is our saying, meaning fresh cuts of fish and fresh music," Handa said. "We're a music-driven restaurant."
Godina, who spins in bars on other nights of the week, said providing music for diners offers a creative challenge. At the restaurant, he's as likely to mix Led Zeppelin classics with songs from a hard-core punk band such as Far Side.
"You're not worried about killing a dance floor so you can be really creative and put really odd things together," Godina said. "It's a lot more mellow and freeform. You're not pigeonholed into a genre."
Silver, located on Park City's Main Street, features a house DJ on the third-floor dining area every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The music that's played covers a wide range of eras, from the '70s, '80s, '90s and to current songs, said co-owner Lisa Barlow. "It creates a whole different vibe for the restaurant," she said.
During her travels to New York and other metropolitan cities, Barlow had dined in restaurants that featured DJs. It was a trend she wanted to include at Silver, which opened earlier this year.
While it may seem new to some, Barlow considers it more of a vintage flair. "It's a modern version of a supper club," she said. "People will get up in the middle of dinner and go dance by the DJ."
DJs also help the bottom line. "People stay longer and meet new people," she said. "It's a very social way of dining."
Even when people want to dine on the quieter main floor, they often choose to head upstairs after their meal for a cocktail or snack just to be part of the action, Barlow said.
On a recent night, Chad "Elvis Freshley" Thomas, one of Silver's two DJs, could be found behind the turntable scratching the beats of the popular 1970s hit "Staying Alive" into rap lyrics. Thomas said he wants people of all ages to enjoy the music. Mixing genres is still doing something new while paying homage to popular songs everyone knows, he said.
Adding a DJ to a restaurant really isn't much of a stretch. After all, bars and lounges have offered them for years.
"In all kinds of spaces, people love good music," said local DJ "Mr." Jesse Walker, who helped create a monthly Sunday morning Groove Garden brunch at The Garage bar. "On any given Sunday in big cities, you'd find a party like Groove Garden happening."
Kathy Stephenson also contributed to this story. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restaurants with DJs
Here are two local restaurants where a soundtrack is served with food:
Sushi Groove • 2910 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City; 801-467-7420. DJs on Tuesdays and Fridays
Silver • 508 Main, Park City; 435-940-1000. DJs on the upper floor Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7 p.m.