Friday, May 14, 2010

Roosters Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Brew pub epitomizes downtown revitalization

By Dan Schroeder

Today’s Standard-Examiner has a feature article commemorating the 15th anniversary of the opening of Roosters. For the record, I’d like to state that I consider this occasion well worth celebrating.

More than any other single business, Roosters epitomizes the revitalization of Historic 25th Street. It’s always busy, attracting many dozens of people to downtown every day. It brings us together: locals and visitors, drinkers and non-drinkers, Lifties and Smarties. And its owners, Kym and Pete Buttschardt, have contributed enormously to the greater community through organizations like the GOAL Foundation and Weber Pathways.

To be sure, the opening of Roosters was just one of many small steps in the slow recovery of 25th Street that followed the end of the railroad era. Earlier businesses, including the Buttschardts’ own Union Grill, were the true pioneers. Many of the newer restaurants (including my favorite, Two Bit Street Cafe) serve more interesting food. Nearby venues like the Egyptian Theater, Eccles Conference Center, and Lindquist Field have helped supply the restaurants with hungry customers. The embarrassing gap on the south side of the 100-block of 25th Street has now been filled.

But Roosters was a necessary step, and arguably the most important step. 25th Street needed a brew pub, and the instant success of Roosters showed other downtown entrepreneurs what was possible.

The transformation of 25th Street has been so dramatic that some folks have come to believe that it happened overnight. Others, for their own political reasons, would have us believe that downtown Ogden was “dead” before our current mayor took office. In fact, the revitalization of 25th Street began more than two decades ago and there are many, many people who deserve credit for it. As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Roosters, let us also raise a toast to the many others who have contributed to this transformation.

25 comments:

RudiZink said...

Thanks for the article submission, Dan. I'll also mention that Roosters was favorably mentioned as a notable Utah brew-pub in this recent SL-Weekly article:

Utah Brew Pubs - Brews & Bites: 10 can’t-miss brewpub beer-and-grub pairings

But lets not forget the REAL pioneers of Two-Five Drive's modern revival. Bill Parker and Heidi Harwood were investing BIG DOLLARS on 25th Street at least a decade before the Buttshards and some of the other 25th Steet latecomers had even heard of Ogden, Utah.

When it comes to proposing toasts to the "new" more "yuppified" 25th Street, here's your blogmeister's toast to Bill and Heidi, straight from the 25th Street Businass Association:

The City Club

Let's just call this a tribute to the TRUE 25th Street pioneers, Bill and Heidi, who paved the path for all the other 25th Street "latecomers."

It's actually Bill and Heidi who got the ball rolling on 25th Street, Dan.

Salut!

Dan S. said...

Rudi, I'll admit being a little fuzzy on the earlier history of 25th Street, since I didn't arrive in Ogden until 1993. I wasn't much into the private clubs (mostly due to the smoke), but I quickly discovered Great Harvest, where I still buy most of my bread.

According to its web site, the City Club opened on September 27, 1991. So you're absolutely right about its pioneer status.

Today's S-E article, though, says that Union Grill opened five years before Rooster's. If that's correct, then Union Grill predates the City Club. Of course, Union Grill isn't technically on 25th Street.

Who can provide more dates, to help us put the chronology of 25th Street in order?

Curmudgeon said...

Roosters was the first place I ate in Ogden when scouting the place out as someplace to move about ten years ago. Been back many times since. And on Celebration Day I may... for a while... forgive the owners for taking Mango Chicken off the menu.

Celebration to include a pig pickin', cut price on their brew and a free concert? Works for me. Let's party!

Richard LM Peterson said...

Editor,

It's very nice when anyone contributes to charity.

Bill and Heidi are enormous contributors to numerous, numerous, charities but mainly to local Ogden citizens in need.

The difference being everytime they write a check they don't notify the newspaper.

From, Richard LM Peterson

RudiZink said...

Dan:

You said: "...the revitalization of 25th Street began more than two decades ago and there are many, many people who deserve credit for it."

Your invitation is the only reason I'm bringing this up. Bill and Heidei were the first to recognize that 25th street had a lot more potential as an upscale place, than as a haven for "dive bars."

I believe they deserve recognition for that. They put their own money on the line. Unlike Boss Godfrey, former Ogden Mayor Mecham wasn't handing out governement subsidies When Hiedi and Bill started up their downtown business at the time.

Credit where credit is due.

Val Holley said...

1956: Ogden Chamber of Commerce forms urban development committee to study downtown blight.

July 8, 1958: Demolition of the Broom Hotel began, to make way for new Commercial Security bank headquarters. (MarketStar now on that site.)

July 1963: Demolition of historic buildings to make way for Federal Bldg. on 25th.

Nov. 1967: Earle Hotel (formerly the Healy), across from Union Station, demolished.

May 1971: Utah Division of History certifies Union Station for preservation.

Feb. 1976: Union Pacific and Southern Pacific donate Union Station to Ogden.

1977: Weber County acquires Ben Lomond Hotel.

Oct. 1977: Master plan for downtown Ogden (meaning restoration of Union Station and 25th Street) adopted. Utah Historical Society nominates 25th for National Register of Historic Places.

Oct. 21, 1978: Union Station Museum dedicated.

1978: National Register of Historic Places approves 25th Street's listing, ratifying the "Lower Twenty-Fifth Street Historic District."

1981: London Ice Cream Parlor is first 25th Street building to be rehabilitated, per Greg Montgomery.

1984: Ben Lomond Hotel becomes Radisson Suites.

1997: Egyptian, Eccles Conference Center, and Lindquist Field all completed.

2000: Congress establishes Crossroads of the West Historic District, providing matching funds for 25th Street restorations.

From my forthcoming TWENTY-FIFTH STREET CONFIDENTIAL.

Steven said...

2008: Mayor Godfrey and crony friends attempt to change well-established 25th Street ordinances to benefit FOM building owner (Windsor Hotel debacle).

Oh, and...Kudos to Roosters!

ozboy said...

Val

Looking forward to your 25th Street Confidential. As a little kid in the early 50's I used to sell the Standard Examiner on the street. I would sneak in the bars and sell papers to drunks who were too loaded to even read it. The paper was a nickel and a lot of them would give me a dime. Big money for a 12 year old in that time. That is where I first learned the concept of the "Keystone"!

Another great pioneer of 25th during that time was Ogden Police detective Roberts Carver. I was friends with his son and the detective used to regale us with tales of crime fighting on the street - including a rather famous shoot out he was in at one of the bars that lined both sides of the street.

I also believe that Dean Perkins was one of the first to buy a building and renovate it on lower 25th in the early eighties. Dean was one of the first ski celebrities in Ogden in that era.

My hat is off to all the current pioneers on the street from Bill & Heidi to the Roosters folks and all the others who have taken big risks and invested there.

By the way, the politicians that were behind the demo of the old Broom and all the other great old building on 25th and downtown Washington ought to be shot. If they are already dead, then they ought to be dug up and shot anyway!

The Broom was one of the most classic buildings in all of the west. Can you imagine what a national jewel Ogden would be if the Broom and all of those other great turn of the century buildings were still extant? But alas, they were all destroyed behind the whims of arrogant and incompetent politicians with access to tons of public money and a complete dearth of foresight. This cretin Godfrey is just one in a long line of incompetents that have played havoc with the heritage of Ogden.

Danny said...

Comments:

A typically great article from Dan.

Great posts above.

Reading Dan's link to WCF from 2007 brought back memories - of Godfrey cheerleaders inaccurately claiming Godfrey was the city's savior, the only one who'd ever done anything, and other falsehoods.

All of it makes me think - what an interesting place this is to live. So many characters. So much personality. So much interest in the community by so many.

Good stuff.

Val Holley said...

Oz: Thanks for your memories of the Rose Rooms which you shared about a year ago.

monotreme said...

Prompted by Oz, I dug up this old photograph of the Broom Hotel.

I agree. It's a shame this beauty was torn down.

Wm III said...

I mean in no way to disrespect the Roosters celebration and I'm only responding because I was asked by a couple of readers to respond to Dan Schroeder's incorrect posting ...

Dan is seldom wrong ...

Hmmm ... how does this add up?

When Heidi and I opened The City Club on "notorious" 25th Street we were considered idiots ...

We had excellent credit, a sound financial plan and a vision that is only apparent today ...

No one wanted to finance us, no one wanted to deliver to us (even with cash) and for sure, no one wanted to insure us ...

It took balls and a bunch of great, daring employees to become guinea pigs of a business venture that seemed at the time, to the majority, completely unsound ...

We had few supporters but Mayor Mecham was a great one ... he encouraged us to persevere, to reach for the stars, and together we saw the twilight we were all striving for ...

Let me fast forward ... a lot of blood, sweat, tears, scars, many great friends, a few enemies, and 25 million dollars later, we'll take the high road and wish Roosters a happy 15th and much continued success...

But to say Roosters was the pioneer on 25th, sorry Dan, and with no disrespect to you, whom we greatly admire, but we'll pat ourselves on the back, and say we blazed the way back in 1991 that allows 2010 to be providing upscale food, top-notch entertainment and on the edge, exciting nightlife on "notorious" 25th Street ...

Ask anybody that really knows - they may still say we're idiots but I'm sure they'll agree, the facts add up ...

Happy Anniversary Roosters ...

Bill Parker

Dan S. said...

Bill,

I'm not sure what I said that you're disagreeing with. I said the earlier businesses, that came before Roosters, were the true pioneers. Perhaps I should have singled-out City Club as one of those businesses, but since I didn't move to Ogden until 1993, I didn't want to go into that much detail.

In any case, I'd be interested in hearing more about what 25th Street was like before City Club opened, and immediately after. Could you name some of the more prominent 25th Street businesses of that time?

Dan S. said...

Val,

Thanks for the chronology. As I said to Bill, I'd be interested in knowing a little more about what 25th Street was like in the 80's and early 90's, in order to better understand how the current revival got started.

Also, do you know how the Union Square area, occupying most of one side of the lower block of 25th, came to be vacant?

Wm III said...

Dan ...

I was only forwarded your original post, not your responded comments ...

For sure, I'm not disagreeing, and for sure I'm not belittling ...

I'm as proud of you and your continued call for civic responsibilty as I am of our 25th Street trailblazing ...

I remain a big fan ...

Bill Parker

Curmudgeon said...

Interesting key early players in the revival of Historic 25th Street were drinkeries of one sort or another [City Club "private club for members" and Roosters brewpub.]

Still, given 25th Street's history, how could it have been otherwise? [I still recall fondly the Ogden booster brochure I picked up on my first day here scouting which said "no one ever lost money in the liquor business in Ogden."]

And now, of course, we're actively engaged in limiting the number of drinkeries permitted on the very street where drinkeries led the way in the restoration. Ah, Utah. Ah, Ogden. Ain't no place like 'em!

ozboy said...

Dan

I am looking forward to Val's answer to your question:

"do you know how the Union Square area, occupying most of one side of the lower block of 25th, came to be vacant?"

Meanwhile I will chip in my observations on that.

The South side of the 25th street block from Wall to Lincoln was historically the black side of the street. It was strictly segregated for most of its history and was the largest concentration of black folks in Utah. That came about because of the porters and waiters who worked for the railroad and it was the only place they could stay during their lay overs. A lot of those workers were also stationed in Ogden and would work the trains going East, West and North out of town.

There were many blues clubs on that block as well as lots of hotels for the itinerate rail workers and traveling black folks who were not allowed anywhere else in town. Most of the great blues singers and musicians in the world played these clubs as they passed through Ogden on the trains going between the two coasts. Ogden was the only significant lay over point between Chicago and California in those days. It was called the "Hub" city.

The block was anchored by the famous and notorious Porters and Waiters Club which was active up into at least the late 1960's. In it's later years it was run by Annebell Wheatley who was a legend in Ogden. She was still active into at least the mid 1980's with a club in the Salt Lake Hilton called "Annebells". I understand she had also picked up a degree from the University along the way. I remember seeing her a few times in the 60's at the Porters and Waiters after it became acceptable, although still a little daring, for us white boys to go there after hours for some outrageously good Mexican food unlike anything ever served in Ogden to this day. The place hung heavy with danger and intrigue. The stories were that many a man had met his end in the place over the years.

Over time that side of lower two bit street became quite run down, more so than the rest of the street. I'm guessing that was partly because there was no interest by the banks to loan money for remodeling. Also when the railroads declined in the 60's the black folks that worked the railroads were no longer around in significant numbers, so that lower south block of 25th became the most dilapidated and abandoned part of the whole street.

That is my guess as to why it became the first to be torn down.

In it's day two bit street was world famous. I remember when I was back east and overseas in the army in the early 60's more than one old soldier from WWII would find out I was from Ogden and would launch into fond memories of their wild and crazy nights on "two bit" street.

As to Val's reminding me in his above of our discussion last year about the Rose room, I would like to clarify that I was not a customer! I was only about 10 years old when I used to sell newspapers to the madam and the whores there. I had always thought it was Rose herself that bought the papers from me, but Val set me straight that the time frame was not right for that, so it must of been one of her successor madams who was so kind to me in those days.
There were also several other cat houses on the north side of 25th that I sold papers to. One was at the corner with Kiesel street and the other was between Lincoln and Grant.

My sweet conservative Mormon momma would have totally freaked had she known what I was doing and where I was doing it! But hey, I sold way way more papers on two bit street than I ever did on Washington Blvd.

Dan S. said...

Curm:

Not all the key businesses that opened on 25th Street in the early 90s were drinkeries. There was also Great Harvest bakery, and Pan Handlers (I think), and La Ferrovia (no liquor license as I recall). But Bill and others can undoubtedly give us a more accurate picture than my poor memory.

GORGOGEIGER said...

ALL OF YOUR DORKS FOR SUCKING OP TO ROOSTERS AND THE BUTTSHITS. REMEMBER DAVID PHIPPS? THEY HAD THEIR NAME ON HIS FLKER AND IT WAS SPEELLED WRONG TWO. ROOSTERS SUCKS ASS. THE SERVICE SUCKS AND THE FOOD SUCKS AND THE OWNERS SUCK, ANY QUESTIONS?

Val Holley said...

The demolition of the south side of 25th Street's 100 block is an event whose chronology has so far eluded me. Even Greg Montgomery didn't know for sure when I asked. However, it appears that the Porters and Waiters Club at mid-block was still standing after everything to its east was torn down. Annabelle gave an interview to Issac Goeckeritz in which she placed the P&W demolition in about 1970.

confirm this runor said...

I've hear from one former Roosters server that Godfrey shows up at Roosters with his entire entourage for lunch, and that Godfrey demands and gets free meals at Rosters, and that he doesn't even leave the servers a tip.

Can any former Roosters severs confirm this?

Val Holley said...

I'm still searching for precise information on demolition of the south side of 25th Street's 100 block.

In the Standard-Examiner of June 1, 1960, Ogden City requested RFPs for the demolition of "Ogden City Owned Building at No. 161 to No. 169 25th Street."

So they were thinking about it at least as early as 1960, and small wonder. That stretch was all six-stool "restaurants" and flophouses, in which stabbings and shootings were routine.

When Ogden got around to it, however, remains a puzzle [although I expect to find the answers]. In the early sixties, you could still find news items from addresses between nos. 161 and 169.

ozboy said...

Val

Do you know what the P&W's address was? I believe it was about mid block and I know it was still there and in business in 1965.

Val Holley said...

127 25th.

Dao said...

I could care less about the politics of the owners. Roosters has sub-par food with a trendy-cliche menu, marginal over-roasted beer, and truly horrible service by lazy and untrained staff. In any Real City, it would simply be another place to eat, and not even 3 star at that. It is only the paucity of choices in Ogden, that make Roosters even mentionable.

Of course, when compared to Jasohs!, Roosters rises to adequate. Jasohs! is the worst restaurant in O Town. And that includes Denny's. You are all so provincial that you mistake marginal with "good".

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