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Crispy fried chicken, greasy french fries or any messy deep-fried foods, for that matter won't be on the menu at Salt Lake City's new Eccles Theater.
Plenty of other meals and snacks, however some healthy, others more decadent will be available during Broadway shows, concerts and other entertainment events.
Concessions at the new Main Street performing-arts venue, which opens Friday, will include a selection of snacks and beverages including beer in what's described as a "grown-up sippy cup" that patrons can take to one of the nearly 2,500 seats in the main Delta Performance Hall.
"Anything that is sold out of the concession stands can go into the theater," explained Vicki Dunnington, the theater's executive director for food and beverage. "We worked really hard to select food that isn't messy and has packaging that is sustainable and quiet."
That means no popcorn or traditional candy with noisy wrappers, she said. Instead, guests can choose other items like cookies from Salt Lake City's Ruby Snap Bakery, chocolates from C. Kay Cummings and caramels from JulieAnn's in Sandy. There also will be raw vegetables with hummus, small sandwiches and salads assembled by the in-house kitchen team.
"With 2,500 people, we want to be able to give them many choices," said Dunnington, noting that concession stands are on all three theater levels so patrons shouldn't have to wait in long lines.
Water and soft drinks will be sold in the original plastic containers no glass is allowed in the building. Bottled beer will be poured into a plastic souvenir cup with a sturdy lid, the aforementioned "sippy cup."
The theater has three separate liquor licenses from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. One allows beer that is 4 percent alcohol by volume (or 3.2 percent by weight) to be served from concession stands on performance nights; another allows alcohol at private catered events in various open spaces throughout the building; and a third allows beer, wine and spirits to be served with food at the Encore Bistro, the 40-seat restaurant in the theater's Grand Lobby.
Behind the scenes • Cuisine Unlimited of Salt Lake City, which has catered events everywhere from the Salt Lake Winter Olympics to Red Butte Garden, is in charge of all concessions at the venue and will provide food for special events and group meetings. It also will manage the Encore Bistro.
Stacey Rosati, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with more than 20 years of culinary experience, is the theater's executive chef. She worked for Cuisine Unlimited and Deer Valley Resort early in her career, before owning a café in Driggs, Idaho.
Rosati, a fan of live theater, returned to Utah and Cuisine Unlimited two years ago and jumped at the chance to work at the new theater which has two large kitchens and two staging kitchens. "I'm not just a food geek," she said recently. "I like and appreciate the arts, too."
Before the show • The centerpiece of the Eccles Theater culinary program is the Encore Bistro, which opened in mid-September and serves breakfast and lunch weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It has a casual menu of soups, salads and sandwiches, with theater-inspired names such as the stage left barbecue sliders and the vegetarian diva panini. Prices range from $5 to $11.50.
The Encore Bistro also will be open on performance nights, serving a more formal set-price dinner that is themed to match the current show. Prices for the three-course meal including soup or salad, choice of entrée and dessert will range from $22 to $25 per person. Wine, beer and cocktails will be available.
For menu inspiration, Rosati said she has been reading scripts and listening to musical scores.
She already selected the menu for "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," first up on the Eccles Broadway series playbill Nov. 15-20. Described as East Coast comfort food, the meal includes a salmon and corn chowder and a kitchen clam bake, both inspired by the singer-songwriter's New York upbringing and warm lyrical songs. Rosati is still pondering the menu for the production of "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," which runs in December. Funeral potatoes definitely will be served when "The Book of Mormon" opens next year.
For those who don't want a formal sit-down meal before the show, there will be an appetizer buffet on the third floor. Concession stands also will be open.
Patrons can stop in the Encore Bistro during intermission, too, where snacks and drinks will be available. If purchasing wine, beer or cocktails, the DABC requires that you also order one of the "substantial food items" the restaurant plans to provide, said Rosati.
Speaking of liquor service, a unique feature in the Bistro will be a "Zion Ceiling." Like its well-known sibling, the "Zion Curtain," the ceiling will prevent patrons standing on the colorful balconies in the theater's sweeping six-story open lobby from seeing alcoholic drinks being mixed and poured below. It wasn't clear that a ceiling was needed until a few weeks ago when a DABC compliance officer was making a final inspection of the restaurant and realized the Bistro's enclosed mixing booth meeting the "Zion Curtain" requirement was visible from above.
Architects with HKS in Salt Lake City say they have built a cover that is opaque, a requirement of the DABC; and washable, to meet health department regulations.
The addition will be made of "white sea-salt-colored resin," said HKS project manager Emir Tursic, who promised that it will fit the theater's "overall design."
Tribune reporter Ellen Fagg Weist contributed to this story.
Eccles gala opening
Premiere Performance • Rita Moreno will emcee the event, with performers including Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony-nominated Megan Hilty (of TV's "Smash") and performers from Ballet West, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Utah Opera Chorus and the University of Utah theater department.
When • Friday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Where • George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $50-$200, available at the box office, at artsaltlake.org or by calling 801-355-2787; ticket holders will be invited to a post-show celebration on Regent Street. Dress is black tie (encouraged, not required).
Saturday Open House
Free performances throughout the Eccles Theater complex are set on Saturday, Oct. 22:
10-11:45 a.m. • Aspen Winds, Chitrakaavya Dance, Chrome Street Quartet, Columbia Jones, Eastern Arts, Finding Kate, Jim Fish, Myriad Dance Company, New Zealand-American Society, Ophir Creek, Rusty Shovels, Unity Gospel Choir, Utah Children's Theatre Company, Utah Repertory Theater, Utah Symphony, Wing & Claw
Noon-1:45 p.m. • Anabil Chaudhuri, Aspen Winds, Ben Brinton, Canyons, Carlos Emjay / A Band Called Earthrise, Chrome Street Quartet, Columbia Jones, Dallyn Vail Bayles, Khemera Dance Troupe, Nino Reyos / Harry James, Plan-B Theatre, Rebecca Aneloski, Salt Lake Vocal Artists, Tablado Dance Company, The Runaway Blues, Utah'Ko Triskalariak, Utah Opera, Vocal Point, Wing & Claw
2-5 p.m. • Alyssa Pyper, Ballet Folklorico Citlali, Children's Dance Theatre, Gabino Flores, Hectic Hobo, Jim Guss Trio, Joshy Soul, Los Spanglos, Mariachi de Mi Tierra, Rumba Libre Band, Salt Lake Electric Ensemble, Samba Fogo, Svengali Jazz Quartet, Talia Keys, The Bboy Federation, The Joe McQueen Quartet, The Riverton High School Music, Dance & Theatre Class, Tom Call Sextet, Utah'Ko Triskalariak, VCR5, Vocal Point, Wasatch Music Coaching Academy Funk Band, Who's Louis? Theatre Company
More information • artsaltlake.org/events/eccles-theater