The owners of Salt Lake City’s Bar X and Beer Bar say they will purchase Holladay’s iconic Cotton Bottom Inn and expand it — promising to maintain the atmosphere of the quintessential neighborhood tavern while also keeping its signature garlic cheeseburgers on the menu.
The Bar X Group — which also owns The Eating Establishment in Park City — will officially take over the business in March, new co-owner Jeff Barnard said. Before then, the beer-only bar, located at 6252 S. Holladay Blvd., will be upgraded to meet fire and safety standards. It will remain a tavern for those 21 and older.
A new 3,000-square-foot restaurant and enhanced patio will be added to the back of the original building where families — and those under 21 — can dine, Barnard said. The owners plan to get a full-service restaurant license that will allow diners to order beer, wine and spirits with their food.
“The planned refurbishing," he said, "is meant to preserve that legacy, while bringing new life to the property and maintaining the true spirit of the original.”
The Bar X group consists of four extended family members, the most famous of whom is actor and Utah resident Ty Burrell — best known as the goofy dad on “Modern Family.” The team also includes Burrell’s brother, Duncan, and his two brothers-in-law, Barnard and Richard Noel. (Duncan Burrell and Barnard are married to Noel’s sisters.) Utah contractor Dave Hunt and media specialist James Roberts are also part of the Cotton Bottom project.
The group took over the Bar X in 2011, opened Beer Bar in 2014 and purchased The Eating Establishment in 2016. The track record of taking beloved Utah businesses and enhancing them is one of the reasons Holladay sold to the group, Barnard explained. “We’ve done it before and could do it in this circumstance.”
In 2014, the city of Holladay borrowed $875,000 to purchase the tavern and two adjacent lots, with plans to develop the properties. At the time, the city also agreed to lease back the bar to owner Ashley Chlepas, until plans were finalized.
Chlepas is the granddaughter of Helen Chlepas, who opened the bar — with her son Tony — in 1966. The no-frills atmosphere and the garlic burgers have been a favorite of locals and tourists hungry for food and fellowship, after a day of skiing in Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons.
Today, Holladay leaders are excited about the historic establishment’s next chapter, Mayor Rob Dahle said. “The Bar X Group has presented a great solution to preserve the things that have always made the Cotton Bottom great, while making it accessible for everybody of all ages to enjoy in the future.”