The owners of Salt Lake City’s Five Alls have decided to close their five-decade-old eatery, which at one time was one of Utah’s most popular restaurants for wedding proposals, birthday celebrations, holiday meals and dinner before the high school prom.
“We had a great 50-year run,” said Anne Halliday Lentz, a daughter of founder Richard Halliday, who opened the restaurant in 1969 and attracted customers with single-priced five-course Scottish meals served on old-English-style pewter plates and goblets.
The Five Alls signature appetizer was its clam dip served with freshly baked breadsticks, but other menu items were just as beloved — from the spinach soup and chicken Kiev to the cheesecake.
Lentz closed the restaurant, at 1458 S. Foothill Drive, last week and announced her decision on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The post garnered nearly 200 comments and shares along with dozens of sad-face emojis.
“We are heartbroken,” one customer wrote. “My wife and I have been every year since we met, for all of our special occasions.”
“A friend recommended Five Alls in 1971 for our first anniversary,” wrote another regular. “That started a tradition that lasted 48 years, adding birthdays along the way. Our last visit was last month. Always looked forward to the clam dip and breadsticks. Your soups were to die for!”
Brandon Fugal said his family members — who all live in Pleasant Grove — have been regular customers since the restaurant opened. “Honestly, four generations of my family have made it their favorite restaurant.”
It started with Fugal’s parents, Dan and Jill, who married in 1969 and were some of the first Five Alls customers, he said. As the Fugal family grew to include four sons, and grandchildren, the Five Alls became the go-to restaurant for special occasions and parties.
When Fugal married his wife, Lacey, 24 years ago, the Five Alls become their weekly “date night tradition," ordering the filet of Oscar and sitting in one of the booths in the back. “For the last 15 years, we don’t even ask for menus,” he said. “The staff already knows our order and where we want to sit.”
Even though the menu and decor remained the same for decades, Fugal said, his family never tired of the Five Alls. “It’s the most unique dining experience in Utah,” he said, “and it’s a tragedy to see yet another multigenerational institution close.”
Part of Five Alls’ allure was its old-English decor — which included a cottage-style front door and swords and shields on the walls. Even the name, the “five alls” was a nod to a classic British pub sign that depicts five men: the king, who “governs all”; the bishop, who “prays for all”; the lawyer, who “pleads for all”; the soldier, who “fights for all”; and the countryman with a scythe and rake, who “pays for all.”
Richard Halliday learned the restaurant business while working for Finn Gurholt, the founder of the original Finn’s Restaurant on Parleys Way, becoming an excellent baker and chef before branching out on his own, said Lentz, who noted that her father met her mother when she was a waitress at the Five Alls.
When the couple divorced, Lentz, who was still in high school, stepped in to help run the restaurant.
While she won’t miss “the stress of running a restaurant,” Lentz said, she will miss the customers.
“They’re why I did this job and why I did it for so long,” she said. “I’ve spent 22 years in the dining room, and I see some of them every single week. I have a relationship with them.”
Six months ago, Richard Halliday — described by his daughter as the “heart and soul” of the restaurant — was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has been unable to help run the place.
That left Lentz to not only run the Five Alls kitchen — something her father did — but also care for her ailing parents and rear the three young children — ages 9, 6 and 2 — she has with her husband.
Something had to give, she said. “This is my dad’s baby,” she explained. “He and I did it together, and without him, maybe it’s OK to say goodbye.”
She plans to have an open house soon, when she will sell goblets, plates and other memorabilia. “My goal is to pay off the bills and close free and clear of any debt,” she said. “But I also want customers to have a little piece of what mattered to them.”
Before that happens, though, the landlord and some of the employees may try to reopen the restaurant, said Paul Latteier, who worked as the Five Alls host for at least 20 years. “There are a lot of people who want to see it stay.”
First, they must find financial backing and hire one of the previous chefs.
“We’ll have to see,” said Latteier, who also owns the copy shop in the basement and is keeping his fingers crossed. “There so many things that are unique about Five Alls.”