Salt Lake City’s Caffe Molise and its sibling, BTG Wine Bar, will be moving in May to the historic Eagle Building at 404 S. West Temple.
The owners are leaving their space near the Salt Palace Convention Center to make way for a possible development that also could encompass the now-vacant building that housed NakedFish (and later Ikigai).
”I’ve felt pressure for two or three years to relocate,” said Fred Moesinger, who opened Caffe Molise, at 55 W. 100 South, some 25 years ago. “Ideally, we wanted to purchase something rather than continue to lease.”
Moesinger said he and co-owner Aimee Sterling wanted to remain downtown and were thrilled to find the Eagle Building, despite the need for repairs. “It’s a grand old place,” Moesinger said. “Aimee and I are excited to be restoring it to its former glory.”
While the restaurant and bar will move farther from the Salt Palace, City Creek Center and the Eccles Theater, the Eagle Building “is actually closer to more hotels,” Moesinger said. It also offers more space — 15,000 square feet compared with the combined 9,000 at the current location — as well as more parking and patio options.
Caffe Molise and BTG will make the move once the Eagle Building renovation is complete. The project, which started about seven months ago, is expected to be done in May, Moesinger said.
Originally constructed in 1915 for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, the historic building has opened and closed numerous times over the past century.
During the Great Depression, the building sat vacant, but in 1941 it was leased by the American Legion. It served as the home to the Equitable Life Insurance Co. in the 1950s and The Bay, a dance club, in the 1990s.
The large staircase on West Temple will be the entrance to Caffe Molise’s main dining room, while the massive upper floor will offer space for private events, “something that was difficult in our current location,” Moesinger said.
Having a patio was another important consideration, said Moesinger, as Caffe Molise’s urban patio, in Salt Lake City’s Dinwoody Park, has been one of its signature features.
The new location will have a landscaped courtyard and two balconies for alfresco dining, he said. Patrons at BTG Wine Bar also will get an outdoor seating option.
“We’ll miss being on First South, it’s such a great, sleepy little street,” he said. “But the new location offers us more room to grow.”
Until the move, patrons can still enjoy Caffe Molise’s Italian menu Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. BTG Wine Bar remains open Sunday through Thursday, from 5 to 11 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.