Downtown News and Blog

My Own Downtown Staff Focus: Greg Yerkes

April 13, 2018 Written by

Published in Downtown News and Blog

When he's not catching a concert in our urban core, you can find this Utah transplant enjoying our great outdoors. 


What is your first or fondest memory of downtown?

My fondest memory of Downtown was during Summer 2015. Summer evenings in Downtown mean outdoor dining and drinks, followed by Twilight, rounded off with a gorgeous nighttime bike ride home. We started out our night grabbing dinner at Pie Hole. Roasted Red Pepper Basil slices out on the patio hit the spot. We then hopped on our bikes to head over to Pioneer Park for the Twilight Show. We had a blast feeding off the energy of the fans in the crowd. The show was great, and after it ended we decided it was the perfect night for drinks. We grabbed our bikes and headed over to Beer Bar for a few cold beers before biking off into the night to go home. It was my perfect summer night, and it happened right in Downtown SLC. 

What is your favorite thing about downtown?

The sense of opportunity. I moved to SLC in 2011, and since then I have witnessed it evolve and grow. New places pop up all the time, and when there is something vacant, there is no shortage of "I know what would be awesome there!" Downtown Boston, where I visited frequently, is settled and matured. Downtown SLC is just hitting its stride, with many more years to come where new ideas and ventures will spring up all over. SLC has an air of potential that you just don't find in places like Boston and I can't wait to see the next step in its evolution. 

How will downtown SLC look and feel differently five years from now?

I think its cultural and identity will be more settled and developed. With its rapid growth, I think that a lot of great spots have popped up and will continue to pop up. Cultural events are more and more common, and diverse population is finally starting to embed itself in our community. Downtown is figuring out how to balance the variety of different cultures, tastes, and opinions that came with our rapid growth. These things need to settle, and Downtown stakeholders are doing a great job at coordinating our path to successfully crafting our unique SLC culture. I think in 5 years, Downtown SLC will have shouted its brand even to the world and be a major destination for the Portland or Austin experience of old. 

If you could change one thing about Salt Lake City, what would it be and why?

Downtown SLC doesn't have many flaws, but my chief complaint is how big the streets are. Look at many major cities or even cities comparable in size to SLC and you will find cozier corridors for auto travel. Here, the streets are massive plains of pavement that can at times take away from neighborhood closeness. Broadway has taken appropriate steps in addressing this, and I think it is one of the better places to business for it. It slows cars down, gives pedestrians and cyclists a path by which they can take a look around and discover the local shops and restaurants that make Downtown what it is. Bigger streets, like 200 S, have a degree of separation from one side to the other, and those walking have a much louder, less intimate experience with those shops they pass. We don't need to turn carriages around in one swoop anymore, let's switch up how we look at car travel in Downtown!

Friend or family is coming to town, asking for entertainment recommendations. What three places do you send them to?

First, hit the Broadway Theatre. Interesting movies, yummy snacks, reasonable price, and an indie experience that defines a certain part of Downtown Culture. Second, go up to Memory Grove and stretch out those legs after your film. It is beautiful and the access to nature is a defining point for many of those coming to Downtown SLC. How cool is it that a beautiful, auto-restricted canyon meets up pretty much with the main drag of an urban center? The symbiotic relationship between Wild Utah and Urban Utah is palpable here, and something I want everyone to experience. After some food and drinks, I would say hit a show at the Depot, one of the coolest and most unique venues I have been to. Many great musicians pass through the Depot and it is hard to find a bad show there. 

What's your favorite day of the year downtown?

Its hard to choose, there are many different days that are equally great, but my favorite is Pioneer Day. A unique-to-Utah holiday, it was brand new to me when I first moved here. Another day off?? Awesome! But it is so much more. Apart from the awesome history that the holiday celebrates, SLC has a vibrant counter-culture movement that has dubbed a parallel holiday as "Pie and Beer Day." And Downtown gets into it. Local radio stations host event at Beer Bar, Downtown Breweries run special releases and pie options, and it is a day of celebration for just about everyone Downtown. It is a truly unique Downtown SLC holiday that you just don't get anywhere else. 

When you are not working or playing downtown, what do you do for fun or entertainment?

Exploring Middle of Nowhere, Utah. I am usually on my motorcycle or in my truck trying to fill in an office of tourism roadmap I have with all the roads I have traveled. Utah is an awesome place to live, and its ability to throw you from a thriving urban center to a rugged mountaintop 50 miles from another person within two hours is astounding. I will never get over how cool this state is and how many different tastes it can cater to. 
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