Inside Main Street’s intimate McKay Diamonds jewelry store the walls are filled with hundreds of photos of couples, taken as they picked out their engagement or wedding rings. Store founder, Robert McKay, began taking couples' photos when he opened his eponymous store in 1949; a tradition that, along with McKay’s reputation for personalized service, is continued today by Joe and Sandra Andrade, owners of the landmark store since McKay retired in 2010.

This fall, McKay Diamonds’ next chapter will get underway when the Andrades move the store around the corner to 115 Regent Street. There, the classic light bulb and neon McKay Diamonds sign will live on, along with many of the endearing photos from the store’s original location. And there, the Andrades will build upon the time-honored McKay reputation, perhaps imbuing a bit more of their personal American Dream story. The Andrades journey into the jewelry business began in Brazil, the couples’ home country. Born into a family with 16 brothers and sisters, Joe began working at age 7 delivering flowers to help make ends meet. “When I look at my grandkids, I can’t imagine them starting in business the way I did, but for me, it was just a normal life,” Joe says. When the flower shop closed two years later, he approached a nearby jewelry store about a job. There, at just nine years old, Joe began his career as a watchmaker. He went on to complete an apprenticeship, developing skills in jewelry carving and setting and opened his first jewelry store at age 17.
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Joe and Sandra met and married a few years later and then in 1999, emigrated together to Salt Lake City. In Utah, Joe’s career veered in a way typical of many immigrants. To support his young family, he—often with the help of Sandra—worked various jobs in construction and as a janitor. Through lots of hard work and saving, he and Sandra did eventually open a jewelry store in Taylorsville, where Joe was the jeweler and Sandra, tapping into her experience as a bank teller in Brazil, handled the finances. But then around 2003, he met and struck a deal with Robert McKay. “Bob’s kids were not interested in continuing McKay Diamonds and so he and I worked out a deal: I worked for him until he retired, at which time he’s sold me his business, and then Sandra and I would close our Taylorville store and focus on McKay Diamonds,” Joe says. Now, most of the dazzling rings, necklaces, earrings and more found within the cases at McKay Diamonds are handmade by Joe, who also specializes in custom-designed pieces.

In an age where many people turn to the Internet to find jewelry—diamonds in particular—the Andrades pride themselves in personally guiding couples through what’s likely one of their most significant purchases. “Talking to the jeweler and being a part of the design process is an important part of creating the memories surrounding a diamond,” Sandra says. Resetting or creating an altogether new design for an heirloom diamond is another important part of the Andrades offerings at McKay Diamonds. “It’s not uncommon for us to create a new design for a third or fourth generation diamond,” Joe says. The expansion of Eva’s Bakery next door precipitated the Andrades’ difficult decision to move McKay Diamonds from where it’s resided for more than 70 years. And though they entertained multiple locations throughout the valley, they ultimately settled on staying downtown. “This little store is part of the downtown community,” Joe says. “We love the diversity of downtown and our customers come from all over the country and we want to make it easy for them to find us.” The Andrades are planning a simultaneous closing of McKay Diamonds on Main and its reopening on Regent Street at the beginning of October.
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As has been the tradition at its original Main Street location, visitors to McKay Diamonds new store will be greeted from behind the display cases by Sandra, will be able to watch Joe crafting jewelry at his workbench and may even catch a glimpse of the couples’ daughter, Kimberly, who works in her parents’ store while attending the University of Utah. And, of course, there will be the photos, which on closer inspection, reveal the rich and ever-evolving nature of downtown Salt Lake City.

Published in Downtown News and Blog

Denver has LoDo. In Austin, it’s Sixth Street. L.A. boasts Culver Boulevard. And here, one of downtown Salt Lake City’s hippest locales is a block bordered by 200 South, 200 East, East Broadway (300 South) and State Street, known simply by the alley that bisects it from north to south, Edison.

You probably already know about Edison’s dense concentration of murals, an ever-changing, open-air gallery of local and international street art and graffiti lending this block its unique aesthetic. (El Mac & Retna’s Ave Maria—arguably Salt Lake City’s most-photographed public art piece—is there high on the east side wall of the Fice Gallery & Boutique building.) Pairs of old shoes hanging from overhead cables and fire escapes add to Edison’s distinctly urban vibe. But it’s Edison’s mostly independent shops, restaurants and bars that give this area artistically gritty soul.    

A handful of proprietors, like Gallenson’s Gun Shop, Diabolical Records and Fice, have called Edison home for a decade or more. Several new businesses have taken up residence there recently, adding to an eclectic vibe not found elsewhere in Utah’s capital city. 

Restaurants

What began as a food truck in the San Francisco area, is now the country’s fasted growing Indian-inspired fast-casual restaurant chain, Curry Up Now (152 E. 200 South). (Utah locations include another in Midvale.) Approachable Indian street food is the rule here. Think slightly Americanized versions of pani puri, samosas, vada pav, daha puri and much more.  

When you’re craving a wide slice of pizza, made with a characteristically thin, hand-tossed crust and dripping with gooey mozzarella—a la New York City—make a beeline to the locally owned Este Pizzeria (156 E. 200 South). Note: the wings, Stromboli and calzones there are as good as the slices.   

One of SLC’s friendliest, most inclusive coffee shops—The People’s Coffee (200 E. 200 South)— relocated to Edison in May. Walk into this inviting and airy space—with high ceilings and whimsical green-stained chevron-pattern hardwood flooring—any time of the day, and you’ll likely find hours have passed when you finally tear yourself away to leave. 

Made-to-order guacamole; creative, seasonally-inspired tacos; and tasty cocktails made with fresh ingredients is what you can expect at Taqueria 27 (149 E. 200 South). Dine inside this modern, minimalist space or outside on the umbrella-shaded patio.   

Proving that everything tastes better when wrapped in a tortilla, the ingredients used within Roc Taco’s (248 S. Edison) “freestyle” tacos—defined as having “zero restrictions in the flavors and techniques employed”—run the gamut from Korean short ribs, Daikon radish and chicken tikka masala to Cuban carnitas, grilled Mahi Mahi and citrus tabbouleh. When you go, be sure to try one of Roc’s deliciously creamy batidas—the citrus avocado is a local fave.

The time is now to get a final fix of the expertly roasted beans, café eats and friendly ethos at Campos Coffee (228 S. Edison). The owners announced they are closing all of Campos’ North American operations July 15, 2021, including the charming café on Edison. Campos very quickly became a popular destination for locals and visitors. Numerous other craft restaurant operators are considering what they could bring to this unique location. Stay tuned for what’s next for this lovely downtown space.

Bars

From the moment you pass beneath the old-timey, light-bulb façade into Bar X (155 E. 200 South), the focus of this hip, speakeasy-esque watering hole is crystal clear: relaxing with an expertly made cocktail. Rows and rows of illuminated bottles serve as a backdrop against which a team of  pro mixologists create anything your palate is desiring. 

Hard booze not your jam? No worries. You’ll find 30 beers are on tap and hundreds more in cans and bottles next door to Bar X at the Beer Bar (155 E. 200 South), dubbed by its owners as “a love letter to the beer of the world.”

The third in Edison’s Second South tavern trifecta is Johnny’s on Second (165 E. 200 South), a gratefully divey, come-as-you-are bar where you can get a beer and a shot for $4. Just the place to spend an afternoon sitting on the sidewalk patio sipping a cold one or inside watching the game and shooting pool.  

Though the dinner offerings are fantastic, where Copper Common (corner of Broadway and Edison) shines is as one of downtown’s most inviting places to meet up with friends. Cozy up in one of the intimate booths inside or sit outside on the patio, verdantly festooned with potted herbs, flowers and lush plants. Not-to-be-missed events at Copper Common include Taco Tuesdays ($6 margaritas) and the no-cover Copper C’mon patio concert series on Friday and Saturday nights.  

It’s hard to grasp the character and sense of place that little, hole-in-wall bars bring to a locale. But that indescribable appeal is just what you’ll find inside the chic and cozy Mortar & Pestle (152 E. 200 South). With the same ownership as Curry Up Now, much of the signature cocktails menu is Indian-inspired and all are made with fresh ingredients and housemade syrups. 

Shops

In a world where digital music is king and record stores are an endangered species, somehow  Diabolical Records (238 S. Edison) has managed to thrive, thanks in large part to its curated selection of indie music on vinyl and tape. Watch for the store’s free weekly concerts with local and touring bands to return in September 2021.

Anchoring the edgy street ambiance endemic on Edison is Fice Gallery & Boutique (160 E. 200 South), stockists of a huge selection of hard-to-find sneakers and artist-driven t-shirts and hoodies. Fice has also built a brand on hosting community-building events, like the monthlong art sale it held in February to mark Black History month and benefit Hoods in the Woods.

Russian immigrant William Gallenson founded Gallenson’s Gun Shop (166 E. 200 South) as a tailor shop on the nearby Regent Street in 1916. Nine years later he changed his business model from men’s clothing to guns and ammo. After a series of moves throughout the downtown area, Gallenson’s landed on Edison in 1990, where it remains Utah oldest firearms dealer.       

Tattoo Parlors

Named for the term of endearment owner Taylor Millet’s mother gave him as a child, Sailor Taylor Tattoo (215 S. Edison St) has been a defining presence on Edison since it opened in 2015. In addition to one of Salt Lake’s most revered sources for fine art-quality tattoos, Sailor Taylor also offers original jewelry, art pieces and piercing within its rococo-style parlor. (Fun fact: The red light next to Sailor Taylor’s door is an artifact from the year Millet ran a speakeasy out of his tattoo parlor—open, when the light was on, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.)    

Formerly Cathedral Tattoo, Edison’s Mercy Tattoo (180 S. 200 East), is a definitively hip tattoo parlor employing a staff or young and up-and-coming artists who specialize in American traditional, Japanese Traditional and fine-line tattooing. 

Living

Though many of the buildings on Edison and its environs house living spaces above the street-level businesses, theRandi (218 S. 200 East), when completed later this year, will be Edison’s first luxury-level apartment building. The 61 for-rent condos there range from one to three bedrooms within 478 to 2,208 square feet.

Published in Downtown News and Blog

The 2020 State of Downtown report offers insights into key industry sectors: commercial real estate, retail, residential, nightlife, arts and culture. The report was researched and compiled by the Downtown Alliance and CBRE. This report is an excellent resource for developers, planners and policymakers to help guide decisions about investing in our central business district. 

Click here to view the full report
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Published in Downtown News and Blog

Support some of your favorite downtown SLC businesses while saving some dough thanks to the Shop in Utah Grant Program! Shop in Utah offers support for local businesses such as restaurants, bars, retailers, cultural performance groups, fitness studios and hotels while providing discounts to their customers. Pick up some take-out, book a staycation and even get free money at vendors like the Downtown SLC Farmers Market. Check out the full list of participating downtown businesses below and learn more about Shop in Utah here

Downtown SLC Shop in Utah Offers: 

AC Hotel, Salt Lake City - 50% off online prices

Array Salon - Buy a hair color service and get one free

Ballet West - 40% off tickets to Nine Sinatra Songs to the general public starting 10/13. Beginning10/9 we will exclusively offer subscribers and donors 50% off tickets to Nine Sinatra Songs.

bastille - 50% off a huge selection of inventory

Blue Iguana - Contact the business for more information

BTG Wine Bar - Contact the business for more information

Caffe Molise - Buy One Get One Free every day for lunch items

Dexterity Salon - Various service promotions and product giveaways

Downtown Alliance - Get $10 extra when you buy $50, Get $25 extra when you buy $75

Downtown Farmers Market in Pioneer Park – Urban Food Connections of Utah - $10 in Market Cash to be used at ANY market vendor

Eva - Free dessert with 2-person meal nightly

Eva’s Bakery - BOGO - promo code: SHOPINUTAH to any online orders to receive a discount

Hampton Inn Salt Lake City Downtown - 15% discount for Utah residents

Hilton Salt Lake City Center - pay for a $150 room night and you receive a $100 City Creek gift card and a $50 Spencer’s credit

Hotel Monaco - Buy one get one free package; credit for dining 

LatterDayBride - 50% off all prom dresses including our sale prom

Mr. Shabu at Gateway - Make a day in advance reservation for 20% off an entire meal for parties of 4 or more

Odyssey Dance Theatre - Thriller (Capitol) & Shut Up and Dance (Kingsbury): $35 seats discounted to $17.50

Peak 45 LLC - 50% discount on all class packs and private and semi-private lesson; 30% discount on all retail

Poplar Street Pub - 15% discount any food item; $5 Monday wings special (dine-in only)

Post Office Place - SOLD OUT

Repertory Dance Theatre - 50% off performance tickets; 50% off Dance Center on Broadway drop-in classes and punch cards; 50% off digital concerts; 50% off Winter Dance enrollments made before Dec. 30, 2020

Salt Lake Power Yoga LLC - 50% discount on all class packs for both in-studio and live stream; 30% discount on all retail both in-studio and online

Smith Bespoke - 50% off $1000 suit for first time customers

Soundwell - Contact the business for more information

Sweet Rolled Tacos - Contact the business for more information

Takashi - SOLD OUT 

Taqueria 27 - Buy 1 gift card online or in-store and receive a second card free at 50% of the purchased value

Toasters - for every total dollar amount spent, get a 50% gift card of that amount

Tucanos - Contact the business for more information

Utah Arts Alliance -  Up to $25,000 in discounted tickets and local art

UWM Men’s Shop, Utah Woolen Mills - Contact the business for more information

Visit Salt Lake - 50% off all Connect Passes & Salt Lake Brewery Passes

Vosen’s Bread Paradise - 10% off

Whiskey Street Cocktails and Dining - 50% Off Gift Cards

White Horse Spirits and Kitchen - 50% Off Gift Cards

Zest Kitchen & Bar - Gift card discounts; Buy $25, get $5; Buy $75, get $25, etc

Know of a Downtown SLC business that should be on this list? Let us know by e-mailing  

Published in Downtown News and Blog
February 18, 2020

Upcycle your Style

Going green, saving dough and supporting local businesses has never been so rewarding!

In recent years the act of “thrifting” has become hugely popular. Thrifting is no longer just about saving money. The used items trend can be attributed to the vintage fashion craze, the influential green movement or the desire to simply support local businesses. Trends cycle in and out of style, which means secondhand and consignment stores are chock-full of treasures that are good for your wallet and the environment. When you buy used, you are making a positive impact on the environment by decreasing the amount of goods in landfills, reducing the number of resources used and wasted. Downtown Salt Lake is full of eclectic vintage fashion, furniture and book finds. Take a look at our roundup of resale spots we love, where we’ve found pieces that last beyond their past life and accentuate their new one. 

Fashion Forward

Atelier (341 W. Pierpont Ave) was started in 2017 by two friends Malinda Fisher of Desert Rose Jewelry and Olivia Henrie of Innerspacism, as a place where both could work and sell their handmade goods. It has now grown to a home for over 20 artists and has a beautifully curated selection of vintage clothing from numerous local vendors. Atelier empowers local creatives by providing a physical retail space where they can market their goods and ideas.
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Located inside Atelier, Maeberry Vintage (a local vendor) offers a selection of vintage clothing from the 1920's to the 1990's. They buy, sell and trade a cornucopia of one-of-a-kind vintage treasures in the heart of downtown. From 1950’s gingham dream swimsuits to gorgeous high waisted 1970’s denim pants (and everything in between), the selection is fun and inventory is constantly changing.

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When thrifting, a new store you must visit is Miss Misc. (pronounced mis*sy) Boutique (239 E. Broadway). This matchmaker and treasure hunter helps clients find the style and size that works best for their body, from the simplest items to the most ornate. She helps you build a fabulous wardrobe with ease, promoting sustainability by reducing waste and lessening the footprint of the clothing industry.
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Furniture & Decor

The Green Ant (179 E. Broadway), offers up an eclectic selection of mid-century curios and furnishings from that bygone era when things were made to last. For investment-worthy wares with impressive craftsmanship, stop by this shop to check out their constantly refreshed items. Dress up your home with touches that pay homage to earlier times, which can come in the form of a simple coffee table or a whole new furniture set.
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If you are looking for a real treasure hunt, check out the Indoor Winter Urban Flea Market (12 W. Rio Grande) at The Gateway. Held on the second Sunday of every month, November through April, this market provides a great opportunity for attendees to shop, browse and enjoy the experience of a Sunday in downtown Salt Lake. It also provides a great community outlet for vendors to sell items that will be treasures for others. Featuring over 80 vendors, this bazaar offers the best eclectic and unique vintage and antique finds. Local crafters will provide cool handcrafted and upcycled vintage items. 

Books & Collectibles

Bookworms looking to save a buck or find the diamond in the rough hit the jackpot at Ken Sanders Rare Books (268 S. 200 East). Specializing in Utah history and western Americana, the literary west is well-represented here. Additionally, they have a vast inventory of used and rare books and an ever-changing selection of art, maps, photographs and postcards. Looking to sell? Book purchasing and appraisal services are offered in this downtown staple.
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For the past 104 years, Utah Book & Magazine (327 S. Main St) has made downtown home. As the third-generation owner, Peter Marshall has kept his grandfather’s legacy alive by keeping this unique used bookstore filled with the classics, out-of-print paperbacks, magazines and movies. When you stop by, make sure to ask about the bookshop ghosts!
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Published in Downtown News and Blog

Welcome to the new year! We’re seeing good progress on many of the projects we’ve already announced, and are hearing some more already coming down the pipeline. Keep an eye on the blog because 2020 is sure to bring plenty of new business activity.

Recently Opened

Blue Marlin | 136 East South Temple

bluemarlin Photo courtesy of Stuart Melling | Gastronomic SLC

This new restaurant at the base of South Temple Tower considers itself to be a blend of new American and traditional Japanese cuisines. In addition to a full sushi menu, you’ll find an assortment of innovative small plates and chef-driven entrees. Though not quite available yet, you won’t want to miss the omakase dinner, a multi-course dining experience specially designed by the chef.

City Corner | 218 South 300 East

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From the looks of it, the City Corner convenience store on North Temple has opened a second location on the eastern edge of downtown. While not a full-fledged grocer, this should prove to be a real convenience for what will continue to be an expanding residential area.

Everything Utah | 311 South State Street
It’s no secret that Salt Lake City has a bustling tourism economy. We expect it to continue growing, so it only makes sense for a local souvenir shop to pop up on State Street. Everything Utah focuses on curating a selection of local goods that celebrate our great State and City.

HallPass | At The Gateway

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It’s high time for Salt Lake City to finally be getting a food hall to call our own. Vendors will include eight restaurants and two bars, such as the popular Vegas concept SkinnyFATS, CodSpeed, Beer Zombies, and Raining Ramen. Get ready for a new go-to spot for everything from breakfast to your late-night drinks!

Opening Soon

The Shop | 340 East 400 South
As coworking concepts continue to flourish in the downtown area, we are excited to see The Shop expand from its home in New Orleans. It will be a part of the larger development going on that corner known as The Exchange. With an array of different housing options at The Exchange, this will be a true live-work opportunity. Keep an eye out as there are other planned retail elements of this project we’ll be able to tell you about soon!

Do you know of a new business I missed? Got a tip of one getting ready to open? Let me know at !

Published in Downtown News and Blog

The holiday season can only mean the new year is just around the corner! Downtown doesn’t wait for the new year, though, and there are plenty of new businesses that have opened recently. Whether you’re looking for some gifts, or need a bite to eat amidst your shopping, check out some of these new establishments!

Recently Opened

Bluprint | At City Creek Center

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Bluprint is a unique community for creators of all sorts. The online platform provides opportunities to learn all types of skills, from quilting and knitting to cake decorating and art. The new store at City Creek Center provides a range of project kits with everything you need to get started, perfect for yourself or to gift to someone else!

Louis Vuitton | At City Creek Center

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You probably don’t need much of an introduction to this French luxury retailer. Many have been waiting anxiously for the opening of Utah’s first Louis Vuitton store. Well, it’s here in plenty of time for your holiday shopping!

Mr. Shabu | At The Gateway

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Many Salt Lakers aren’t as familiar with Shabu Shabu, an Asian hot pot dining experience. Mr. Shabu hopes to introduce you to an upscale version at the new Gateway restaurant. Start out by choosing your broth, select from an array of quality sliced meats, and finish by loading up on veggies and other tasty add-ins at the stocked salad bar. 

Momi Donuts | At The Gateway

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Doughnut lovers, get ready for a new spin on your favorite treat! Momi’s “mochi doughnuts” are made with glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch, giving them a chewier texture than traditional ones. In case you have any question as to whether these are breakfast or dessert, the store doesn’t open until noon daily.

Smith Bespoke Tailors | 311 South State Street

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Formerly known as Chalk Mark, Smith Bespoke has been around since 2015. With their new location on Broadway, they are ready to serve the downtown market. While there is a range of custom when it comes to suiting, you’ll find truly bespoke options to customize every aspect and ensure your suit fits your size and style. 

Sweet Rolled Tacos | At The Gateway

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The southern California chain has opened its second Utah location. If the name sounds intriguing, just wait until you taste the combination of rolled ice cream in a waffle cone shell finished off with candy and other sweet toppings. It may be cold outside, but that won’t keep you from enjoying the clever creations at Sweet Rolled Tacos.

Top Shelf | 65 West 100 South

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Top Shelf is a high-end streetwear boutique specializing in exclusive sneakers. Visit LA or New York and you’ll find similar stores requiring you to wait in hours-long lines or try your chance in a lottery. Here, you’ll see a wall of hard-to-find Jordans, Nike, and Adidas shoes ready for purchase alongside Supreme and other merchandise.

Toro Toro | 55 West 100 South

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The space formerly occupied by Caffé Molise is now home to a new Mexican restaurant. Toro Toro is focused on bringing an authentic Mexican dining experience to downtown. It is still in soft opening, so expect to see some menu changes over the coming weeks and months. No patio yet, but we’re hoping we might get to see it closer to the warm summer months!

Opening Soon 

Calavera Cantina | 63 West 100 South

We’re still waiting to hear more about Calavera Cantina, but we’re looking forward to plans for a tequila bar opening up in the old BTG space. It could be the perfect nightcap after dinner at Toro Toro.

Do you know of a new business I missed? Got a tip of one getting ready to open? Let me know at !

Published in Downtown News and Blog
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