The well-known Coachman’s Dinner & Pancake House in Salt Lake City is closing to make way for a new development.
Many patrons and passersby learned of the iconic 1960s-era diner’s demise over the weekend from a notice posted beneath its towering State Street lamplight and sign, saying the locale would be shuttered “after 60 successful years.”
“Thank you! We were honored to serve you and be a part of many celebrations with great food and service,” the message at 1301 S. State St. declared. “We will miss you!”
A longtime customer echoed the views of many loyal fans, lamenting the closure on Facebook and noting the restaurant’s vintage decor, less-expensive prices, large portions and specialty in cooking classic American comfort foods like pancakes and fried chicken.
“This is sad news,” wrote diner Spencer Burt.
Owner Mike Nikols did not return calls from The Salt Lake Tribune seeking comment. An employee at the restaurant said it would close for good Tuesday, after serving customers from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day.
The announcement comes as Utah’s capital is seeing rapid residential and commercial development — and less than a month after Nikols won approval from the city to rezone the land beneath his restaurant and an adjacent lot he owns for other uses.
The City Council gave its final OK in March to converting the Coachman’s property and an adjoining chunk of land to the south to a more flexible “urban neighborhood” zoning, which potentially allows mixed-use buildings four stories or higher to be built on the 1.77-acre corner site.
Though Nikols hasn’t commented publicly on his plans in recent weeks, he has said in city documents that he intends to replace the old restaurant, the two-story office and retail building and related parking lots with a new structure sporting ground-floor commercial spaces and owner-occupied condominiums above.
Those condos, according to documents, will sell “at a price point attainable to a wide range of potential buyers” — although there is no timeline specified for when the project would be completed.
In backing the rezone, which passed unanimously, Councilman Darin Mano said community council members representing the area were supportive of the change and that he was “very excited for a catalytic project on that corner.”
“This whole part of the city is ripe for development and for reinvestment,” said Mano, whose District 5 spans the site.
The city’s Redevelopment Agency has created a new project area covering portions of State Street between 300 South and 2100 South. The stretch includes wide swaths on either side of the corridor, all of which will allow the city to use tax incentives and other tools to lure development.