Close your eyes for a minute and picture your favorite café, where the sounds of grinding, tamping and the espresso machine's own natural music complement the background soundtrack. Your ears perk up to the barista who knows the simple power of a nice hello and takes the time to explain the characteristics of the house brew. It sends a message that coffee-making is handled with care here, one at a time, without the assembly-line approach. This is the scene that greets you at The People’s Coffee (221 E. Broadway Street).

Screen Shot 2019 11 06 at 3.43.09 PM

Co-owners Omar Jamhour and Allen Salazar are in the business of blending beans and beats. By day, they whip up a mean cup of joe at The People’s Coffee. By night, they are Z & Z: a high-octane EDM (electronic dance music) DJ/producer duo, bridging the gap between multiple electronic music genres.

In 2015, a mutual friend (who happened to be the original owner of The People’s Coffee that Jamhour visited daily) introduced the two. Jamhour (a DJ) and Salazar (a DJ/producer) started working together and realized that when they blended their different styles of music, the fusion was electric. They integrate music influence from their Middle Eastern and Latin backgrounds to create a wide variety of genres and tempos, from dubstep to house to future bass.

Looking to find more time to focus on their music, they left their jobs and purchased The People’s Coffee. Salazar had worked in various coffee shops and Jamhour brought his experience in business to the table. Owning a coffee shop gave a way to make money and pursue their careers in the music business. Three years later, they are still going as strong as the dark roast coffee they brew and performing at Salt Lake’s biggest nightclubs and music festivals.

Screen Shot 2019 11 06 at 3.43.25 PM

The People’s Coffee is literally all about people. They showcase businesses within the community. Local coffee roaster Caffe Ibis is the signature bean that your mocha, cold brew or latte is made of. If coffee is not on the agenda, fresh cold-pressed juices from the neighborhood Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen, Thai tea and rich hot cocoa quench the thirst of any guest.

Hungry? You will be when you see the variety of goodies behind the glass. Satisfy your sweet tooth with creations from Salt Lake’s own Fillings and Emulsions. Melt-in-your-mouth macarons are offered in a rainbow of colors and flavors, along with tarts, cakes and pastries. Want something more savory? The barista puts on another hat as a panini artist and crafts the perfect turkey or veggie sandwich.

Besides supporting local businesses, Jamhour and Salazar are all about showing off the artistic talent within the community. As you walk in, browse the west wall, which is peppered with artwork done by local artists, hoping to find a breakthrough. The shop gives a place to hang their art to be sold, without taking a penny of commission (which is practically unheard of at most coffee shops).

Screen Shot 2019 11 06 at 3.44.04 PM

An open mic night is another way The People’s Coffee likes to reach out. As artists themselves, Salazar and Jamhour like to host budding musicians, comedians and poets and give them a taste of what live performance is all about, in a fun, judgment-free zone. Stop by on the second Saturday of the month and check out some local entertainment.

The music and coffee worlds collide at The People’s Coffee. As DJs, they spend their time reading the crowd on the dance floor and they do the same thing when people come into the shop. They try and understand what customers like and don't like, by watching their reactions. Being aware of the audience and staying true to their product is where Jamhour and Salazar excel.

Screen Shot 2019 11 06 at 3.43.52 PM

Check them out!
221 E Broadway Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
(801) 906-8761
https://www.facebook.com/thepeoplescoffee/

Published in Downtown News and Blog

“I grew up in the restaurant business,” says Bourbon Group (bourbongroup.com) Executive Chef Matt Crandall of his years in hospitality. His great-grandparents owned and operated downtown neighborhood staple Hale’s Market, and grandfather Don Hale founded Salt Lake City institutions Hires Big H and Litzas Pizza. Crandall’s first job was parking lot picker-upper starting in fourth grade. Says Crandall with a laugh, “It was a big deal when I got promoted to dishwasher,” as a teenager.

He’s come a long way since those seminal years in the family shops’ parking lot. Crandall attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland and worked at Aspen, Colorado’s prestigious Caribou Club. “It was great,” he says of the experience, “but my intention was always to come back to Utah.” He did so in anticipation of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games restaurant build-up, leading kitchens at some of Salt Lake City and Park City’s top spots including a five-year stint at Spencer's for Steaks and Chops.  

Crandall also credits good timing with joining the Bourbon Group. “[Managing partner] Jason LeCates approached me right after he opened Bourbon House (19 E. 200 South, bourbonhouseslc.com). And then we opened Whiskey Street (323 S. Main St, whiskeystreet.com) together,” bringing the group’s concept of great food, top-shelf spirits and craft cocktails to Main Street six years ago. Shortly thereafter, the team opened White Horse Spirits and Kitchen (325 Main St, whitehorseslc.com) with an upscale American brasserie vibe. Says Crandall of overseeing three distinct concepts, “We had to have each spot stand on its own,” for both the menu and ambiance. “You can’t compete with yourself,” and still make all three successful, he says.  
Screen Shot 2019 09 13 at 11.44.46 AM

Beyond the walls of Crandall’s three kitchens, however, the competitive gloves come off. He won multiple “Taste of Utah” events while at Spencer’s, has had recipes featured in national competitions (such as his cherry and kirsch-soaked lava cake, which won the national Cherry Institute top prize) and was the winner of the inaugural Downtown Alliance Chef Showdown in 2017. “That one really challenged me as a chef,” says Crandall of the live throwdown starring kohlrabi as the mystery ingredient. “I’d never even seen it before, so it really made me think outside the box.” His Southern-inspired first course of kohlrabi prepared in the spirit of fried green tomatoes with a vibrant smear of pimento cheese was a crowd favorite. Most recently, the Bourbon Group received a much-coveted spot in the Salt Lake City airport terminal expansion, set to open September 2020.     
Screen Shot 2019 09 13 at 11.45.39 AM

The key to keeping innovative? “Travel,” says Crandall definitively. “You’ve got keep trying new things to stay on top of your game.” As Bourbon Group Food and Beverage Director, he says pulling inspiration from great food cities like Chicago, Portland, Nashville and Seattle is a crucial and on-going part of his job. He also credits his wife (who also has a background in the restaurant biz) and four children with keeping him grounded. “Maintaining a balance of work and family life is key,” he says of the industry’s notorious time sacrifices. “Getting outside makes for great family days,” spending most of his summer hours off boating and wakeboarding with the Crandall crew.  

But Crandall’s earliest family foundations remain the core of his success. “My grandfather was all about having the best quality ingredients,” he says of his youth spent in kitchens: “Everything was made from scratch in-house.” Each Bourbon Group restaurant shows the same attention to detail, from house-made ketchup to his superlative smoked Tasso ham. “It’s a commitment to quality that I learned early,” Crandall says with a smile.

Published in Downtown News and Blog
Page 1 of 3