Convention Hotel


Have you ever been to a convention for your job where you sit at a hotel/convention center in a room full of supposedly like-minded people, sit at odd shaped tables stacked with sweating water glasses and stare at bad power point presentations for 8 hours a day?

Oy, I’ve been to a million of ’em over the years, all over this country. They are as bad as they are good but inherently necessary if you want to network with others in your field and learn about new trends and ideas. Conventions make money for the towns where they are held-it’s BIG business. Las Vegas probably wouldn’t exist without its convention business. New Orleans is a great place to see a Saints game or a Mardi Gras parade but it wouldn’t do well without its on-going invitation for conventioneers to land there. It is estimated that the Sundance Film Festival brings nearly $70 million to Utah in jobs and revenue. The Outdoor Retailers and Salt Lake Comic Con will easily bring in a $50 million impact to Salt Lake just this month.

In order to keep big conventions coming to Salt Lake City, we need more hotels. We need a mega-convention hotel that is tied into the Salt Palace Convention Center marketing plan because we lose too many groups to other cities for lack of facilities. We’re going to hear more about that as the days get warmer. Salt Lake County called for bids from hoteliers last year to determine who might be interested in building a new convention oriented hotel downtown. Texas-based Omni Hotels was the only group to bid by the October deadline.

What you’ll be hearing more of is WHERE will the new hotel be located? Landowners in the capitol city are biting their nails and lobbying to get Salt Lake County and Mayor McAdams to pick their piece of dirt for excavation. This is BIG MONEY for a lot of folk. Rumors abound that the most likely and logical location for a mega-hotel would be where the main post office is located on 200 South between West Temple and 200 West because that way the hotel could connect directly onto the Salt Palace. Other’s think that’s a crappy idea because of the intense amount of loading and unloading that occurs on 200 West behind the Salt Palace for conventions that doesn’t make for a nice view or flow. However, the Jazz area needs to be torn down and replaced, so where would that new arena go (as you don’t tear one down until the new one is built)? Hmmm, we’ll know much more this spring. Stay tuned!

Sugar History


Candy is almost its own food group here in Utah. We eat enormous amounts of it in all forms and there are tried and true historical companies here that have been enabling us for years. How many of you have taken a tour of “Taffy Town” as a kid? Glade Candy Company has been around Utah for 97 years but officially changed their name to Taffy Town in 1995. They are famous for that old school, wax-paper wrapped candy sold around the world because they have a whipping and batch process that makes their sweets softer and more melt-in-your-mouth better than their competitors.

Chocolate appeared in Utah shortly after the Mormon’s set up shop in Salt Lake City. One of the largest and most successful chocolate manufacturers was the J.G. McDonald Company. Their large plant closed long ago and in the 1990’s was converted into condos above Squatters on 300 South. The new 2015 Utah Historical Quarterly has a great story of the ‘Chocolate Dippers’ Strike of 1910′ and photos of the place, including the Victorian gardens at the top of the building used as a break room for the workers. McDonald Co. is gone but you can still see artisans dip chocolates at Hatch’s Family Chocolates in the Avenues, V Chocolates and Cummings (to name a few).

The trend for bean-to-bar producer of chocolatiers are all the rage even though cocoa beans aren’t a local crop. In the past few years we’ve seen successful and yummy startups like: Coleman and Davis Artisan Chocolate, top award winner Amano chocolates, Millcreek Cacao Roasters, Park City’s Solstice brand, Crio Bru and Mezzo drinking chocolates. Prop’s to the newly retired Tony Caputo (he’s put son Matt in charge) for originally putting together one of the best selections of local chocolates for dummies like me to choose from, and the expertise of a well trained staff to educate me in what’s yum and what’s extra yum.

When I was a key there were three kinds of chocolate: 1) unsweetened bars of baking chocolate my Nana used in cooking that tasted like crap; 2) imported chocolate at specialty stores in NYC and 3) ‘Whitman Sampler’ boxes. Man am I happy chocolate choices have become so damned delicious and abundant, you?