In Springville, container boxes are turned into ‘Thanksgiving Point for adults’

The Legends Container Village has a record store, a brewery, a tattoo parlor, a comedy club and a museum with 200 vintage motorcycles.

Springville • Even in “Art City,” as this eclectic Utah County municipality calls itself, the steampunk-like compound of Legends Motor Co. stands out.

The location, more than 4 acres at 1750 West and 500 South near Interstate 15, is filled with cargo containers — painted in many colors, some faded and some battered — that house a variety of businesses, including a record store, a speakeasy, a barbershop. Cross the parking lot, past the Ferris wheel and looming bronze statue of a rider on a Harley, there’s a motorcycle museum and Strap Tank Brewery.

The compound — called Legends Container Village (part of the larger Legends Motor Co.) — was launched in 2018 by Utah home builder Rick Salisbury. According to Salisbury’s son, Chris, his dad bought the shipping containers from a vendor he knew. The plan was to open the compound in early 2020, Chris Salisbury said, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.

The inspiration, said Chris Salisbury, was his dad’s love for motorcycles — which started during his boyhood in California.

“He always loved motorcycles, but wasn’t ever in a position financially to get one,” his son said. Dad, he said, put money away from his work to buy a motorcycle. Then the interest grew past a single motorcycle.

“It was more like the antique motorcycles, and going back to a time when these machines were, instead of them being mass-produced, a lot of them were handmade, like a work of art,” Chris Salisbury said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Located in Springville, Utah, the Legends Container Village has built a community of business around a deeply rooted foundation in motorcycle history. Pictured on Monday, June 12, 2023, numerous shops and venues provide a diverse experience built out of shipping containers.

In the early 1990s, Rick Salisbury launched Legends Motorcycles, a store on Springville’s Main Street. From 2006 to 2007, he bought and created what is now the motorcycle museum, housing some 200 vintage motorcycles from his collection.

Chris said his dad built a cafe next to the museum, and then wanted to expand and try something new. That led to Strap Tank Brewery, the first brewery in Utah County since the start of Prohibition a century ago. (The brewery is named after one of the prizes of Salisbury’s collection: An unrestored 1907 strap-tank Harley-Davidson with its original paint, tires, frame and engine — one of only three in existence, the brewery boasts on its website.)

Some of the businesses in the village have yet to open throughout the summer, but Chris Salisbury said they hope to bring in between 2,000 and 3,000 people every weekend once it’s all up and running.

“We’re blazing a new trail here in terms of how people can spend their time in this part of the state,” he said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brandon Henderson, co-owner of Boxcar Comedy Club in Springville, gives a tour of the comedy space where they plan to bring in various artists, pictured Monday, June 12, 2023.

Comedy in a box

Brandon Henderson — co-owner of Boxcar Comedy Club, and in charge of programming at Kargo Cinema (a vaudeville-style theater that will seat between 75 and 80 people) — said the best way to think of the complex is “Thanksgiving Point for grown-ups,” referring to the family-friendly grouping of museums, farms and attractions in Lehi.

A catwalk leads into the club space from a glass elevator. Walls are lined with old posters of women posing with automobiles and motorcycles.

The space inside the club is long and narrow, filled with seats and little else, with acoustics that should reverberate with laughter when shows start later this summer. The stage’s backdrop is an electric green cargo door, with a spot of white paneling with the club’s logo — a caricature of a hobo (reminiscent of the comedian Jackie Gleason), smoking a cigar and wearing a top hat with what appears to be a still-smoking bullet hole.

The plans for the club are to put on comedy shows on Friday and Saturday nights, Henderson said. Eventually, they’ll add a bar on opening day: August 19, 2023. James Austin Johnson of “Saturday Night Live” will perform.

Henderson referred to himself as a recovering stand-up comedian.

“The origin story is I wrote a play in the fifth grade, and tried to produce it and failed miserably,” Henderson said. He went on to earn a master of fine arts, and then got a job selling software. “[It] took 10-plus years to sort of work my way back into what I really wanted to do.”

Henderson performed stand-up for some time, he said, but then realized, “It’s tough in a state like Utah or Wyoming or Colorado to get tons of stage time and you have to get stage time to develop and be a good comic. So I just started producing my own shows.”

Henderson produced shows at West Hollywood’s Comedy Store and has brought big names to Utah, such as booking comedian Hannibal Buress at Provo’s Club Velour. He’s worked with such comedians as Pete Holmes and Maria Bamford. He worked with Matt Rife on a basement show two years ago in a downtown Los Angeles hotel; now, Rife’s tour (including a stop next April at Kingsbury Hall) is nearly sold out.

The goal, Henderson said, is to make Boxcar a destination spot, particularly for local comedians, so they have a physical spot to practice their art aside from Instagram and TikTok.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brandon Henderson gives a tour of the soon-to-open Kargo Cinema, one of several venues within the Legends Container Village, in Springville, Utah, Monday June 12, 2023.

“For me, that’s what this club can do for local comics,” he said. “There’s a lot of really, really strong talent in Utah. The more time they can have on stage, the better they can get. I want them to be here, I want local celebrity to start happening.

“You go to the Comedy Store, for example, and David Letterman and Robin Williams’ names are on the wall. That’s nothing but a benefit to that club,” Henderson said. “If John Smith or Sally Jones comes and makes it big starting here, that’s great. That does nothing but make me really happy, if all they say is ‘I got my start at Boxcar Comedy Club.’”

The club, he said, will offer a mix of comedians — locals and national acts, some who work clean (no profanity or talking about sex) and some who don’t.

“The vast majority of people are going to hear something and if they don’t like it, they will be offended by it,” he said. That’s different, though, then saying something that actually hurts someone, he added. “My responsibility as a comedy club owner is to make sure that nobody I have on the stage is a person that is harming another person in any way,” he said.

Henderson said Utah County doesn’t get enough credit for its sense of humor. Referring to the county’s nickname — “Happy Valley” — he noted that “the happy part is tongue in cheek, and a little like, ‘They don’t have senses of humor or their sense of humor is very particular kind.’”

Opening Boxcar has been “a wild endeavor,” Henderson said, but he wagers the club’s audiences will “be blown away.”

“People are dying for it, they need it,” he said. “They need a release, and I think that they’re gonna have a great time here.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Buffalo Nickel Tattoo shop within the Legends Container Village in Springville, Utah, is pictured on Monday, June 12, 2023.

More businesses coming soon

Other businesses have already opened at the village. Some, like an Italian restaurant, are scheduled to open soon.

The Buffalo Nickel Tattoo started at Legends Motor Co. in June 2021, manager Bo Flatebo said, when the compound had its annual block party. The shop, next to Boxcar, is small but, like the rest of the space, full of character.

In the back corner, there’s a statue of a buffalo. There is space for the tattoo artists, and the walls are covered with designs from all over the place. One design is a black heart, with two flowers poking out from behind it, and a banner over it that reads “Utah.”

“Initially, it was just a guest spot only,” Flatebo said, “basically where tattooers traveled from all over the country, and even out of the country, to come and tattoo here.” Bringing in new artists gives customers a spectrum of artistic styles to choose from, he said.

The shop does appointments and walk-ins, too — but Flatebo, who moved to Springville from southern California, still hosts artists for a week at a time.

Flatebo said he was initially nervous about moving to Utah, but in the year since, that feeling as subsided — in part because of the vibe at Legends.

“Getting to be a part of the whole environment here — there’s motorcycle culture, there’s restaurants,” he said. “It’s really cool for the area, and it’s good for the area because it gives [people] something else to do.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Logan Nuttall, owner of The Record Shack at the Legends Container Village in Springville, Utah, talks about his place on Monday, June 12, 2023.

Logan Nuttall — who manages another Legends business, Record Shack and Collectibles — grew up in Utah County (his dad owns Platinum Music & Sports Collectables in Provo), and seeing the growth in Springville is exciting.

Nuttall said he first fell in love with the location at Legends when he spotted the gigantic Ferris wheel out front, across the street from the motorcycle museum. He took a look around and thought it would be the perfect place for a new shop.

He wagers that this type of counter-culture gathering spots will continue to grow in Happy Valley.

“This is a nice little hidden unique spot,” Nuttall said. “I feel like Utah County [has] needed a place like this for a while.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Legends Motor Co. compound in Springville, Utah on Monday, June 12, 2023.

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