Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Recycled Buildings

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It used to be a Galaxy Diner. It was a short-lived restaurant chain here in the Salt Lake Valley. They littered the city with distinctive buildings and then abandoned them within a few years. One of them was torn down and replaced with a bagel shop. The shiny aluminum walls and red highlights were too much for the bagel shop in Murray. They bulldozed the building and started from scratch.

Not so in Bountiful. The red has faded and is need of painting, but the aluminum walls still reflect the light blinding all drivers who pass its way. The red letters proclaiming China Gourmet are two shades darker than the washed out red on the rest of the building. I ache for the soul of the building that was supposed to fulfill its destiny in Fifties Nostalgia instead of Oriental Gorging.

It used to be a Picadilly Fish and Chips. The Tudor-style building is an anomaly in the Sandy neighborhood. The Picadilly Fish and Chips in Sugarhouse was bulldozed last month in favor of big construction on that corner. We don’t know what will replace it, but the old sign said “Say No To Pancakes” before the bulldozer took it down. The building in Sandy still stands, though. Instead of greasy scallops and shrimp, it now houses a Subway sandwich. I don’t know which is worse, the bulldozing or the appropriation and transformation of the building for its new designs.

The Thai restaurant on State Street and 7800 South used to be a Dairy Queen. The Vietnamese Noodle House on State and 2300 South used to be a Taco Bell. The Mexican Restaurant on State and 5800 South used to be an IHOP. They are all distinctive buildings that proclaim their former selves beyond the paint and the new signs.

Part of my regret is the memory of good food. I’ve never eaten at the Mexican restaurant that used to be an IHOP. For the longest time, we didn’t have an IHOP in Utah after that one closed and no matter how good the enchiladas were, I’d still be mourning the International Passport Breakfast.

I think the real problem is that I feel like buildings have personalities. It’s a human tendency to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, but I’ve never met anyone else who felt sorry for old restaurant buildings. I look at the China Gourmet and I think, “Aww, I’m sorry you’re not a Fifties Diner. I’m sorry you aren’t what you were meant to be.” Unfulfilled wishes. That’s what those recycled buildings represent to me. They were meant to be something, whether it was a Fifties diner, a fish and chips joint, or a pancake house. Instead, they are something entirely different. They are productive places with good food, but they aren’t doing what they were meant to do. It just makes me feel a little sad.



  1. i personally dont like utah, i find the people to be the rudest ever and the drivers are the worst. you all need to get a life and learn how to party.

    Comment by yolanda keeper — 8/12/2004 @ 8:33 pm

  2. If you had stayed here a little longer, you would have found the underbelly of Utah. Those folks have made partying a religion in protest to the Mormon culture here. We have a strange dichotomy of people here: the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal. There seems to be little in-between. I’m one of the “Tweeners.” I don’t party and I don’t stand in line at the temple. It’s a strange place to be.

    All of this has nothing to do with Recycled Buildings and whether edifices have personalities or souls, of course.

    Comment by Laura Moncur — 8/16/2004 @ 10:47 am

  3. I thought it would be interesting to note that what ended up replacing the Piccadilly Fish & Chips was a tiny strip mall including a chain restaurant called the Original House of Pancakes (hence the “Say No To Pancakes” sign). Piccadilly has opened up a new location at 1450 South State Street, which I have yet to visit, but the building just can’t compare to the old tudor.

    And I don’t know if you have been in Salt Lake long enough to have lamented the passing of Bill and Nada’s Cafe, but that was a truly tragic demise. Bill and Nada’s operated for several decades right by Trolley Square, with the slogan “We Never Close,” and served the popular dish (to their patrons at least) of brains and eggs, right up until they did close in 1999. The cafe was a Salt Lake institution and loved by people from all walks of life. I don’t think the old diner changed in any significant way, right down to the waitress’ uniforms, from the time they opened. The building was torn down not long after the cafe was closed, and the lot where it stood still lies vacant. It’s a sad reminder of what we lost.

    I found a kind of nice tribute page to Bill and Nada’s at http://billandnadas.com.

    Comment by Rebecca Ray — 2/5/2006 @ 6:54 pm

  4. Hey! I don’t know if you’ll read this reply, because this is a really old entry…but I thought I’d give it a shot.

    I was looking up the Galaxy Diner, because it was where my husband and I had our first date! We had cheese fries and rootbeer…I think….but anyway, It’s our 10 year anniversary this week and I thought we’d drive around the valley, taking pictures of places we went and things we did while we were first dating and newly married. So running into your blog was a pleasant surprise. Thank you! I always wondered what happened to it. I don’t get over that way much. Maybe we’ll have to drive to the one in Bountiful. (we’re living in West Jordan) I love how you said it’s sad that buildings don’t turn out to be what they’re meant for….I guess I’ve always felt the same way, but just haven’t really thought about it that much.

    Anyway…by the way…we are part of that underbelly group that does NOT line up at the temple either. The view is nice from here……shopping on Sundays is the best here in Utah, for example….that Yolanda person just met the wrong people here….although that’s not really hard to do.

    Take care!

    Comment by Shiree Rigby — 12/2/2006 @ 8:17 pm

  5. I loved that fish & chips place, and was very dismayed when it disappeared. The Original Pancake House is damn good, though.

    Comment by frid — 4/13/2008 @ 4:15 pm

  6. frid,

    You can still get the fish and chips and Piccadilly. They just moved to 1700 South and State Street. Newer building and same great food. NO sticky tables. :)

    Comment by Laura Moncur — 9/3/2008 @ 2:24 pm

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