Just as Utah’s first Dave & Buster’s is about to open at The Gateway — part of the Salt Lake City mall’s transformation into a dining and entertainment center — another longtime retail tenant has announced it will be closing its doors.
Jim Lampassi, Barnes & Noble’s vice president of real estate development, confirmed that the bookseller will close its retail store at the end of June “as a new development is coming.”
“It has been our pleasure serving this community,” he added, noting that loyal customers will be referred to the Barnes & Noble store at 1104 E. 2100 South in Sugar House.
Jenny Cushing, Vestar’s vice president of leasing, declined to discuss the specific negotiations with Barnes & Noble but said numerous changes will take place in the next year as part of the Phoenix-based company’s $125 million rejuvenation of the mall, which opened in November 2001, just months before Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics.
“The landscape has changed” in downtown Salt Lake City since then, she added, “so we’re changing the landscape here. … It will be a different experience than before, more relevant to what people are looking for today — Gateway 2.0.”
Part of that rebirth will be noticeable on Monday when the state’s first Dave & Buster’s opens. The 44,900-square-foot-space takes up a large chunk of the mall’s second floor and offers plenty of entertainment.
Eat a burger or a chicken-and-waffle sandwich, enjoy a Glow Kone cocktail with a neon green ice cube, play one of the 145 video or arcade games, or watch sports on one of about 36 big-screen TVs.
If you want to play an arcade game, though, you’ll have to leave your alcoholic beverage at the table.
It’s a “just-in-Utah requirement,” Alex Dubois, the national marketing manager, said Thursday during a tour of the new venue.
Utah allows patrons to “consume an alcoholic product only if they are seated at the table, counter or bar structure,” said Terry Wood, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).
“It’s not a huge thing,” added General Manager Andrew Oreskovich, “but some people are upset about it.”
Oreskovich said Utah liquor laws evolve and change and the company is researching to see if Dave & Buster’s fits a new provision in the code that allows patrons to transport beer between adjacent rooms at banquet facilities and sports arenas.
The change was approved earlier this year by the Legislature, mostly to accommodate VIP patrons at the Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz.
Dave & Buster’s is licensed by the DABC as a full-service restaurant, which means customers must order food if they plan to consume, beer, wine or cocktails, said Oreskovich.
Those under 18 are allowed at Dave & Buster’s but must be accompanied by a guardian, 25 or older; and there is a maximum of six children/teens per guardian.
Most people won’t even notice these quirks — unless they’ve been to a Dave & Buster’s in another state.
Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Dallas, the Utah Dave & Buster’s is store No. 113.
Vestar is bringing more people to the area during the day. It revamped Dick’s Sporting Goods to house Recursion Pharmaceuticals, attracted Kiln to another office space, and is negotiating with another tech company for 50,000 square feet adjacent to Kiln.
“We’re going to become an urban tech hub,” Cushing said. “We have the unique environment tech companies are looking for.”
To entice those office workers to stick around at day’s end and to attract people at night from apartments going up all around the mall, Vestar has tried to create gathering spots.
Synthetic turf was installed, accompanied by swinging picnic tables and neon teeter-totters. Its tower was converted into a four-sided, high-definition LED screen to showcase graphic art and permit interactive video streaming.
More than 200 events have been planned for this year, and plans are proceeding to turn the historic Union Pacific Depot into a four-star, 225-room boutique hotel.
Vestar also is about to launch an Instagram Art Campaign, Cushing said, encouraging people to photograph themselves by any of the 31 art objects created or set up at the mall, often tucked away in places such as stairwells leading into a parking garage.
“Art in unsuspecting areas like the garage signify that you’re entering an art area,” she added, predicting people will be eager to takes selfies by the “Before I Die” wall, floating angel wings or the famous quote by the French philosopher Rene Descartes — “I think, therefore I am.”
“The whole goal is to get the public to educate the rest of the community about what’s happening at Gateway, how rejuvenated, fresh and safe it is.”
Safe is a key word, reflecting Cushing’s satisfaction with efforts by local and state officials to remedy problems stemming from the buildup of homeless people adjacent to the mall.
“It doesn’t matter how much money we invest if it’s not safe,” she said. “It had to start with public safety — and we are pleased with what we’ve seen.”