The Utah-based Training Table chain of burger restaurants is planning a comeback years after its 2016 departure — in bottles, on food trucks and eventually, the company says, in brick-and-mortar locations.
The Chard family, which founded the chain in the 1970s and whose internal disputes prompted its closure in 2016, issued a news release Friday to announce the return of the restaurants — well known to Utahns for their cheese fries and their system of ordering by phone from the customer’s table.
In the release, the company said it would soon be rolling out food trucks with the Training Table name, serving its popular menu items at events public and private across Utah.
The food trucks will start rolling out in November, said Helen Langan of Langan Communications, who is handling PR for the company. Stops will be announced on The Training Table’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Initially the trucks will cover the Wasatch Front, but eventually will pop up all over Utah,” Langan said.
After the trucks roll, The Training Table is planning to open full-scale restaurants “in the coming months,” the company said. Though no date has been set for the restaurant openings, Langan said that company is “targeting areas where our former locations were, as well as new areas to expand our reach across Utah.”
The company, Langan said, is seeking comments from the public about where to expand, and asking people to suggest sites on the restaurant’s social media platforms.
In the meantime, to keep fans of the brand happy, The Training Table announced that on Friday — the 45th anniversary of the restaurant’s first opening, in Midvale, on Oct. 7, 1977 — it would start selling two of its signature sauces, The Ultimate Dipping Sauce and The Ultimate Hickory Sauce, in bottles. The sauces will be sold online, at thetrainingtable.com.
“Our restaurant was a Utah institution and phenomenal success for nearly 40 years when we closed our doors,” Stephanie Chard, Training Table’s chairwoman, said in the release. “We always hoped that wouldn’t be the last time Utahns would see The Training Table and are proud to be “A Utah Original.” We’re excited to move forward, starting with bringing back a part of the legacy that people loved, and missed most — our dipping sauce and cheese fries.”
The anniversary, said founder Kent Chard in the release, was “an ideal time to announce our intentions to serve the community once more and bring people together again to enjoy great food and make new memories at The Training Table.”
It’s notable that both Chards, father and daughter, are quoted in the announcement of The Training Table’s re-opening.
When The Training Table closed its five locations — Salt Lake City, Sandy, Layton, Riverton and Holladay — in 2016, the family was in the midst of a lawsuit, Chard v. Chard. In the lawsuit, Stephanie Chard alleged that her father misled her about financial dealings and the restaurant’s ownership. A Third District Court judge dismissed her claims, and three Utah Court of Appeals judges upheld the dismissal of most (but not all) of the claims and counterclaims in a 2019 decision.
Langan said the last ruling in the Chards’ legal dispute was issued last December, “in favor of Stephanie Chard.” Langan added that, “more importantly, even before the case was settled, the Chard family had happily reconciled, and now look forward to bringing The Training Table’s beloved food back to Utahns.”
The company whetted Utah diners’ appetites in July, when it launched a website with a countdown clock and the words “tasty things coming soon.” The clock is set to run out Friday at 5 p.m. Mountain time.
That announcement created a frenzy on social media. A July 20 post on the restaurant chain’s Facebook account — showing a plate of the chain’s famous cheese fries, and the message “stay hungry and stay tuned” — racked up 2,900 likes and 1,300 comments.
Utahns who remember visiting the restaurant brimmed with nostalgia, not just for the cheese fries but for the experience of picking up a private phone at one’s table and calling in their order — a novelty long before the days when a diner would point their smartphone at a QR code and call up a menu on the screen.
One poster wrote, “I’m seven months pregnant and my biggest craving has been Training Table cheese fries and dipping sauce and I can’t have it. Hopefully soon!”
Another wrote, “Don’t tease me now. You have no idea how much I want this. I worked at the Holladay store from 2006 to 2007 and I’m tired of making the house sauce and hickory sauce from memory.”