A new restaurant will be opening in Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th neighborhood — and the menu is for the birds.
The Birdhouse will build its nest at 854 E. 900 South, adjacent to the East Liberty Tap House, and will specialize in chicken. There will be fried and grilled chicken as well as chicken salad, chicken sandwiches and other chicken specialties, said owner Scott Evans.
The restaurant will be Evans’ sixth Salt Lake City dining business. In addition to the East Liberty Tap House, he and his partners own and operate Pago, Finca, Hub & Spoke, and Trestle Tavern.
The Birdhouse, however, will be Evans’ first foray into fast-casual dining, something he has wanted to do for at least two years in the space. He was waiting for the Pilates studio that occupied the building he owns to finish its lease.
That happened in October; now the remodel is underway and nearing completion. The tentative opening date is sometime in June, he said.
Chicken is one of the hottest dining trends in Utah and the country, with many restaurants adding crispy, spicy chicken sandwiches or chicken and waffles to their menus. There also are many chicken-only restaurants that specialize in a specific cooking style such as Southern or spicy.
Evans promised his restaurant will be different from Pretty Bird, which recently opened in downtown Salt Lake City and specializes in Nashville hot chicken.
Opening The Birdhouse next to the Tap House also solves a dilemma created last year when the Legislature eliminated Utah’s unique “dining club” license, Evans said.
Businesses — like Liberty Tap House — that have the special liquor permits from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) will have to decide before July 1 whether they want to become a restaurant or a bar.
Like a bar, a dining club license allows adults to drink alcoholic beverages without having to order food. But unlike a bar, minors are allowed inside when accompanied by adults.
With the new restaurant in place, Evans says he will turn the Tap House into a bar for those 21 and older, but still be able to serve families in the neighborhood at The Birdhouse.
That’s not to say alcohol won’t be available. Evans plans to apply for a limited service liquor license from the DABC, which will allow him to serve beer, wine and cider on draft when customers order food.
The Birdhouse is patterned after Evans’ favorite chicken restaurant in San Diego, one that has a “fun and convivial” atmosphere — a feeling he hopes to replicate in Salt Lake City.
“I want to make it somewhere casual,” he said, “where you can take your family.”