Bar Exam: Two new bars inside The Hotel & Club Elevate

Bar exam • Less dance space, means more drinking space at The Hotel & Club Elevate in Salt Lake.
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When it comes to dance-floor space, 99 percent of nightclub owners wish they had more.

The owner of The Hotel & Club Elevate belongs to the 1 percent who don't.

The Salt Lake City hotspot, Utah's largest nightclub at 42,000 square feet, recently shrunk its dance-floor capacity to make way for two new bars. Now only 1,500 people can dance at one time, compared with the previous 1,850.

What was once the dance floor near The Hotel's entrance has been transformed into a bar and eatery called The Historic Hotel Bar; a former storage place underground has been given a stylish makeover and is now known as The Barrel Room.

The renovations were the idea of owner and former University of Utah football placekicker Bryan Borreson, who took over the multifloor nightclub three years ago. A history buff, he spent time learning about the building, which opened in 1910, and decided he wanted the two new bars to pay homage to its history.

"I like to know where our state comes from," Borreson said. "I've really embraced the history of Salt Lake City."

The nightclub still has two large dance floors — Club Elevate and the Opium Lounge — to entertain those who want to dance all night. But the restored bars offer something for Utahns who normally wouldn't step onto a dance floor.

The chandeliered Historic Hotel Bar will soon boast a bar staff outfitted in the fashions of 1910 — think bow ties — and will offer an expanded menu. There is standard pub fare such as buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks, as well as nontraditional bar food including hummus, baba ganoush, glazed pork, quinoa salad and even a hamburger infused with truffle oil. The house specialties include three types of flatbread topped with arugula and grape tomatoes, pepperoni and marinara, and alfredo sauce and chicken.

With prices ranging from $6 to $14, the menu is designed for three different customers, explained Dylan McDonnell, director of sales and marketing for The Hotel & Club Elevate . One is for people heading to the dance floor who want some sustenance before Harlem shaking; the second is for local people just looking for a new place to eat and drink downtown. The third is the all-important foot traffic that comes from the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center, directly across the street to the north. The bar opens at 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays to accommodate all three audiences.

The Barrel Room is clearly Borreson's baby. He said he wanted to re-create the vibe of a "cool speakeasy," and the underground bar reflects his vision, with wood-paneled walls, several seating areas and a stage for live bands that is more than 3,150 square feet.

The fully stocked bar emphasizes artisan and local whiskey as well as beer. A large barrel bearing the word "Jameson" is the centerpiece of the area.

"I definitely appreciate the craftsmanship of a good spirit," Borreson said.

Twitter: @davidburger —

The Hotel & Club Elevate

Where • 155 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City; 801-478-4310, 801-478-4311; or VIP: 801-860-7180

Web •

Hours • The Historic Hotel Bar is open at 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; The Barrel Room is open at 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.