SLC Family Restaurant Closing After 42 Years
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A family-owned restaurant in Salt Lake City is closing its doors after 42 years in business. It’s just the most recent small business to fall victim to the effects of the coronavirus.
“It was an institution for so many people,” said Joey Cannella, owner of Cannella’s Restaurant and Lounge. He said “it’s hard to watch” what’s become of it now.
Cannella’s father Joe threw on the apron at the corner of 200 East and 500 South back in 1978.
“He just said one day, ‘I’m going to be the cook and I’m going to do this’ and my mom ran the register,” Cannella said.
Cannella was only 9 years old then and spent much of his time in the kitchen with the dishes while his older brother bussed tables.
“Child labor laws were not really relevant in our family down here all that much,” Cannella said, laughing.
But good food and good people have always been on the menu. That is, until this year when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted restrictions, turning customers away.
“There was the earthquake right kind of in the middle of it all,” Cannella said.
Restrictions were eventually loosed. Cannella’s opened its patio dining and things seemed to be looking up. But their troubles were far from over.
There’s some good news on the state of business in SLC. @DowntownSLC: 126 bars/restaurants are currently offering takeout and/or dine in, up 68% since May. 81% of downtown retail store are open. An improvement but still far from what many have come to expect over summer. #ksltv
— Matt Rascon (@MattRasconNews) July 24, 2020
“The protests really started to hit then,” he said. And with a location right across from Washington Square, Cannella said the streets around the restaurant were closed for weeks.
“We thought we were all going to be back,” he said. “And that things were going to be open and that there was going to be some kind of handle on it.”
All of it kept customers away, and combined with the uncertainty of the virus, Cannella struggled to see a way out.
“I was trying to do everything right and hang in there. To save it,” he said.
According to the Downtown Alliance, 126 bars and restaurants are offering takeout and/or dine-in service in Salt Lake City. That’s up 68 percent since May. A definite improvement, but it’s still far from the summer Cannella had come to expect since his father started it all.
“I know he’d be proud and I know he’d also understand the circumstances we’re in,” Cannella said.
He can only guess where those circumstances may lead. But one thing seems sure. It won’t be quite like the past.
“Everybody says the new normal and it’s definitely going to be a new normal for us,” he said.
Cannella also owns Taco Taco, a much younger, smaller restaurant that is so far surviving. He hinted a dish from Cannella’s may find its way onto the menu at Taco Taco.
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