This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Restaurants come and go. Some remain open a few months, others survive for decades and a few endure for a century or more.
When the 70-year-old Cinegrill, one of Utah's oldest restaurants, closed recently, it made us wonder what are Utah's longest-running restaurants?
Digging into the Beehive's culinary history was a conundrum, of sorts, because even those restaurants that have stayed open for generations tend to evolve moving to new locations, changing names, getting new owners and updating menus. Official records are often minimal or nonexistent, as many of the original restaurant owners were more worried about staying in business than keeping copies of menus, writing detailed histories or taking photographs for posterity.
Still, we've come up with a solid list of Utah restaurants that have been open for at least 75 years. These oldies-but-goodies are listed based on the year they opened.
1902 • Snappy Service Lunch, Salt Lake City
This tiny diner originally opened in downtown Salt Lake City at 57 S. State. It served hamburgers, fries and shakes and at one time was best known for its Spam and egg sandwich. In 2002, when the building was sold, longtime customer Larry H. Miller moved the shop to Jordan Commons, his new entertainment complex in Sandy. Snappy Service restaurants have been added to subsequent Megaplex Theater complexes in South Jordan, Centerville, Lehi and Ogden.
1907 • The Oaks, Ogden Canyon
Originally built as a mountain resort in 1907, The Oaks moved up the canyon to its current location in 1933. It operated as a grocery store, becoming a secret source of moonshine during Prohibition, and a seasonal restaurant where guests could walk up and order milkshakes and hamburgers. In 1981, Keith and Belinda Rounkles bought the business, turning it into a year-round eatery. They expanded the indoor seating and added the shady patio overlooking the Ogden River, where it's common to see a wedding proposal. 750 Ogden Canyon, Ogden; 801-394-2421
1914 • Bluebird Restaurant, Logan
The Bluebird opened more than a century ago at 12 W. Center St. as a candy shop, with an ice cream and soda fountain. Not long after, the owner began serving sandwiches and soups. In 1923, it moved to its current location, where it still serves sandwiches, hamburgers and full dinners, such as steak Oscar, fresh trout and the sweet and spicy Bluebird chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. 19 N. Main, Logan; 435-752-3155
1919 • Lamb's Grill, Salt Lake City
George P. Lamb, a Greek immigrant, originally opened his cafe in Logan, but in 1939 moved it to its current downtown Salt Lake City location. The old-school interior is part of the charm as diners can enjoy a cup of coffee at the ornate wood counter or a business lunch in one of the high-backed booths. 169 S. Main, Salt Lake City; 801-364-7166
1920 • Hi-Mountain Drug, Kamas
One of the country's last old-fashioned, eat-in drug stores makes its own simple syrups for freezes and shakes, and serves hamburgers, sandwiches and soups, accompanied by fresh-cut fries, onion rings or fried pickles. 40 N. Main St., Kamas; 435-783-4466
1921 • Idle Isle Cafe, Brigham City
Initially an ice cream and candy store, the Idle Isle evolved into a full-service restaurant and has stayed in the same location and kept its unique 1920s décor for 95 years. 24 S. Main, Brigham City; 435-734-2468
1922 • The Pie Dump, Garland
This small-town diner got its name because the owner's wife made more than 50 pies a day. Through the years it has changed hands several times, but it has always been known for fresh doughnuts and pastries, hot rolls and mashed potatoes with gravy. 20 W. 1400 South, Garland; 435-257-3947
1926 • Mom's Cafe, Salina
Both locals and tourists love this old-time diner a historic building that dates to 1878. Customers come for the deep-fried Utah scones, fish and chips, chicken fried steak and the pie. 10 E. Main St. Salina; 435-529-3921
1929 • Little Wonder Cafe, Richfield
This cafe is the center for activity in this tiny south-central Utah town. Named after the Little Wonder percolator that originally made coffee for guests, it serves "world famous" breakfasts and chicken-fried steaks, says owner Francie Stubbs, who worked at the cafe for two decades before buying it. Originally a home, the building was later turned into a cafe with a motel upstairs. "There are rumors that it once was a brothel, too," Stubbs said. 101 N. Main, Richfield, 435-896-8960
1930 • Ruth's Diner, Salt Lake City
Ruth's Hamburgers originally opened in Salt Lake City's Meredith Building, 120 E. 200 South. When the building was sold and demolished in 1949, the owner bought an old trolley car and moved her business to its current location in Emigration Canyon. 4160 Emigration Canyon Road, Salt Lake City; 801-582-5807
1932 • Dee's Family Restaurants, Salt Lake City
Ephraim native Dee Anderson opened his first Dee's Family Restaurant in 1932 in a small building at 444 S. Main, Salt Lake City. He sold hamburgers for 5 cents each or six for a quarter. Later, he opened additional restaurants on Main Street, Regent Street and in Sugar House. In 1953, Anderson added the popular Dee's Drive-Ins to his business. Today, three Dee's Family Restaurants remain along the Wasatch Front. 2104 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-487-6761; 2085 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-973-6285; and 4710 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-966-2511
1933 • Cowan's Cafe, Duchesne
Three generations of the Cowan family have been serving old-fashioned breakfasts and classic hamburgers with hand-cut fries at Cowan's. It's a favorite for locals and travelers on their way to nearby state parks and reservoirs. 57 W. Main St., Duchesne; 435-738-5609
1936 • Mollie's Cafe, Snowville
The exact birth date of this restaurant near the Idaho border is a bit of a mystery. But local historian Garn Larkin, 87, remembers going to the eatery as a young boy when it was Nelson's Cafe. It has changed hands several times over the past 80 or so years, he said. For the past 40 years, it has been known as Mollie's Cafe, and it's a favorite for its vintage red booths and bar stools and its home-style food. 15 E. Main, Snowville; 435-872-8295
1940 • Thunderbird Restaurant, Mt. Carmel
The sign outside this family-owned restaurant advertises "ho-made" pies because the first owner, Ed Myers, couldn't find a board big enough to write out the whole word. Now his grandson operates the restaurant, 12 miles east of Zion National Park. U.S. 89, Mt. Carmel; 435-648-2262
1940 • Chick's Cafe, Heber City
This restaurant, named after the original cook, was open for more than a decade when Elva Wright, a longtime waitress, and her husband Gaylen purchased it in 1954. Now the second generation of Wrights operate the cafe that specializes in classics like deep-fried Utah scones, ham and eggs and chicken-fried steak. 154 S. Main, Heber City; 435-654-1771
Here are 17 more Utah restaurant that have survived at least 55 years in business.
Arshel's Cafe • 711 N. Main St., Beaver; 435-438-2977
Gray Cliff Lodge • 508 Ogden Canyon, Ogden; 801-392-6775
Houston's Trail's End • 32 E. Center St., Kanab; 435-644-2488
Dairy Keen • 199 S. Main St., Heber City; 435-654-5336
Silver Fork Lodge • 11332 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, Brighton; 801-533-9977
Kitty Pappas Steakhouse • 2300 S. Main St., Bountiful; 801- 295-9981
Maddox Ranch House, 1950 S. Highway 89, Brigham City; 435-723-5935
Warrens Family Restaurant • 5523 S. 3500 West, Roy; 801-985-7116
Cluff's Car Hop Cafe, 270 N. Main St., Fillmore; 435-743-5510
Arctic Circle • Various locations.
Ab's Drive-In • 4591 S. 5600 West, West Valley City; 801-968-2130
Milt's Stop and Eat • 356 Millcreek Drive, Moab; 435-259-7424
Burger Bar • 5291 S. 1900 West, Roy; 801-825-8961
Sill's Cafe • 335 E. Gentile, Layton; 801-544–7438
Hires Big H • 425 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-364-4582
Iceberg Drive Inn • 3900 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City; 801-716-4133
L.D.'s Cafe • 39 W. Main St., Richmond; 435-258-5135
Where are Utah's oldest bars?
The Shooting Star Saloon has operated in Huntsville, since 1879, making it Utah's oldest bar. But even in teetotaling Utah, there must be other historic taverns and saloons. If you know of a bar that is at least 50 years old and still going strong, email the name, address and, if possible, the owner's name and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.