Rather than fight progress, they joined in, closing Martine in mid-June for an update and partial remodel. The restaurant reopened for dinner on Aug. 4 and lunch on Aug. 25. (See box for specific hours.)
"This is going to be a vibrant area with the new theater," said Grant. "So we're committed."
The 2,500-seat theater is scheduled to open in spring 2016 and is designed to attract traveling Broadway shows as well as concerts and other events that will surely bring hungry diners to Martine and other downtown restaurants.
Construction wasn't the only reason for the remodel.
After 15 years in business, "we needed to freshen things up," said Grant, pointing to the recent changes he, Hale and their staff completed, mostly by themselves. They removed sheetrock to expose historic brick, refinished the entry, reupholstered gray booths with colorful fabric, installed white and black floor tiles and added a fresh coat of paint to the walls.
In addition, they removed eight seats from the dining room to expand the kitchen and make the employee service area more efficient, Grant said.
The only thing that didn't change was the bar, due to Utah state liquor law. "We couldn't do anything to it or we'd have to put up a Zion Curtain," he said.
Martine part of the Pub Group of restaurants that also includes Desert Edge Brewery, Red Butte Cafe and Stella Grill was in business before that controversial liquor law was enacted. Under a grandfather clause, it is not required to have a barrier to shield liquor dispensing from public view.
In addition to the physical changes, Grant is planning changes to the menu. Look for a three-course pre-theater meal, bar bites, new entrées, pastas and bistro items in the coming months.
This is not the first construction project Martine has endured. A few years ago, it weathered the City Creek mall construction and before that the Old Navy store to the west, Grant said.
With the most recent project, crews have tried to accommodate the restaurant's service schedule, stopping construction around lunchtime and ending around 5 p.m. before the dinner crowd arrives, he said.
But still, there are times when working at Martine is an earth-shaking experience.
Remodeled Martine now open
After closing for nearly six weeks for a partial remodel, Martine Cafe is open and ready for the future next to the new performing-arts center.
Where • 22 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City; 801-363-9328
Hours • Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner, Monday-Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Details • martinecafe.com