Utah’s only “Zion Ceiling” will fall this summer.
The demise of the unique barrier — inside the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City — can be attributed to changes in state alcohol laws and the opening of a new restaurant inside the Main Street venue.
Signs went up Monday announcing the remodel of the lobby space to make way for Tin Angel at The Eccles, the second restaurant for Jerry and Kestrel Liedtke. The husband-and-wife duo also owns Tin Angel at 365 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City.
Tin Angel at The Eccles is expected to open in early August before “The Book of Mormon” musical returns for its Aug. 13-25 run, said Kestrel Liedtke. “The big goal is to make the space look like a restaurant and make it separate from the lobby.”
A remodel also means, she said, “that the Zion Ceiling will be going away.”
The structure was hastily installed just weeks before the theater’s grand opening in October 2016. Similar to its better-known sibling, the “Zion Curtain,” the Zion Ceiling prevented patrons standing on the theater’s sweeping balconies from seeing alcoholic drinks being mixed and poured inside the restaurant in the grand lobby.
Utah liquor laws have changed since then. Restaurants no longer need the barriers — as long as minors are seated at last 10 feet away from the dispensing area.
Liedtke said the new restaurant will feature many Tin Angel favorites, including the gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream and espresso-rubbed beef tenderloin. The menu also will have small bites — for before shows or during intermission — that guests would have to buy if they also want an alcoholic drink from the restaurant.
Because it is a restaurant, “all the food and alcohol will have to stay in the space,” Liedtke said. Guests won’t be able to carry drinks from Tin Angel to their seats. However, alcohol purchased at concession stands can be taken inside the theater.
The Liedtkes signed the lease with the Utah Performing Arts Council Agency (UPACA), even though the government-led agency that owns the venue is involved in a lawsuit with the caterer that previously operated the restaurant space.
Cuisine Unlimited was hired in 2014 to handle all food and beverage service at the downtown venue, including the restaurant, catered events and the concessions.
In September 2018, however, the catering company sued UPACA in 3rd District Court for breach of contract and $1.5 million in lost revenue. Cuisine Unlimited owners said UPACA “grossly overstated” the capacity of the building’s event space in its request for proposal (RFP) for catering services and caused the catering company significant financial losses.
Liedtke said the Tin Angel contract is for the restaurant only. Other companies have been hired to fulfill the catering and concession parts of the venue.