Nonalcoholic bar Curiosity is closing amid financial struggles, family member’s health concerns

Owner Raegan Plewe said, “It’s really hard to walk away. But I also know that it’s the right decision right now.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Curiosity, a sober bar on 900 South in Salt Lake City, photographed on Friday, April 29, 2022, is closing its doors on Sept. 30, 2023.

The owner of Curiosity, a nonalcoholic bar in Salt Lake City, announced on Instagram on Wednesday that “with a heavy heart,” the establishment is closing its doors.

Curiosity’s last day in operation will be Saturday; the bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of the week.

In the Instagram video, owner Raegan Plewe read aloud a letter to the supporters of Curiosity. She said that while financial setbacks have played a part in the bar’s current situation, her mother has also been diagnosed with a “life-threatening” brain tumor.

“I have decided to turn all my love and attention towards her healing process at this time,” Plewe said in the video. “Nothing matters more to me than having the space to spend this time with her.”

In an interview Thursday, Plewe added that “it’s really hard to walk away. But I also know that it’s the right decision right now. And it feels good to let myself put something down.”

Curiosity, which opened in May 2022, has experienced financial setbacks in the past year, partly due to monthslong construction in front of the small 900 South business between 900 West and 200 East.

After sales were practically cut in half, Plewe put out a call to the community in July, saying that if Curiosity didn’t get financial help, it might have to close. Over the summer, the bar raised more than $12,000 as part of a GoFundMe campaign. It also received a $3,000 Small Business Construction Mitigation Grant from the city, but that grant covered “a very small portion” of the bar’s losses, Plewe said at the time.

In her Wednesday video, Plewe said that the bar has had its challenges, “both personal and in business.”

“It has been a continuous struggle to find the resources necessary to maintain and grow the business,” she said in the clip. “I have been working endlessly to try to find a solution to our problems, and still, that answer is not clear. I have given everything I have to Curiosity, and now my resources are dried up.”

A ‘safe’ space

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Raegan Plewe mixes a drink at Curiosity on Friday, April 29, 2022. The nonalcoholic bar is closing Saturday.

In opening Curiosity, Plewe said in July that she created a space that she “really wanted to exist in Salt Lake.”

She said in most social settings, “it just kind of felt like no matter what, everything just ended up revolving around drinking.”

Curiosity has allowed patrons to explore what it’s like to have a bar that offers “all the magic of a social setting,” Plewe said, along with “fancy, beautiful-tasting things” at night, without alcohol.

In Wednesday’s video, Plewe said she set out to create a space “that could hold our community, offering up a gentle reminder of the importance of authentic connection with each other.”

“I wanted there to be a space where humans felt safe enough to explore and share in the beauty of emotions. In this way, I believe I have succeeded,” she continued.

Over 100 people commented on Plewe’s video, expressing their support for her and her mother and how they’ll miss Curiosity. “You definitely made SLC and my neighborhood a more connected, interesting and enjoyable place,” one commenter said. “It won’t be the same without you.”

Plewe said Thursday that the comments she’s gotten from people have been “beautiful and supportive.”

“It’s just hard to hear how much people are affected by it being gone, and how much it meant to them,” she said. “It makes me more sad to leave it, of course. But I feel like we’re just kind of soaking in all the last moments now and really appreciating it for what it was.”

As for whether Plewe plans to open another business someday, she said she’s “hopeful.”

“I will do something to bring our community together,” she said. “I just can’t say right now what that would look like.”