Once upon a time, there was a Victorian tradition that involved a few simple things: your closest friends, a bowl and a whole lot of punch. This social practice laid down the foundation of the newest “dinertainment” concept to hit Salt Lake City, Punch Bowl Social. The best part? It’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the Gateway Olympic Plaza from Kiln SLC. 

Self-described as, “a place for people to come and be themselves”, Salt Lake City marks the 19th location of Denver-based Punch Bowl Social. Known for “dirty modern” decor, made-from-scratch food, craft cocktails and all-you-can-sing karaoke, it’s the perfect spot to go after you’ve, “put your responsible, ironed, adult pants on every day of the week".

All jokes aside, the opening of Punch Bowl Social marks a massive milestone for Vestar Properties and the Gateway. Since purchasing the Gateway in 2016, Vestar has worked tirelessly to form a new kind of neighborhood/district for the property—an 18 hour one. Build Salt Lake outlined these efforts in an article last fall spotlighting the announcement that SLC would join the ranks of other cool and emerging markets with this new entertainment concept setting up shop. Between the new tech tenants at Kiln, Recursion and Artemis Health and the new shop openings of everything from The Store to Love Letters and Dreamscapes, the Gateway has dramatically changed for the better. 

Taking the place of what locals remember as the ‘downtown’ Barnes & Noble. SLC’s Punch Bowl Social takes up a mere 15,000 square feet. A concept that is almost half the usual size. Founder and CEO, Robert Thompson, notes that this is a move to modify the model and allow the business to grow in the growing number of vacant retail spaces all across the country. 

“As for Punch Bowl Social, Salt Lake City has been on the company’s radar for several years, Robert Thompson, founder and CEO, said in a telephone interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s a great market, but we didn’t think it was ready for this concept — until now.”

The growing economic sector and population has contributed to our market being ready for something like this to join our community. In an interview with Utah Business, Thompson shared his experiences with Utah. After visiting Salt Lake City in 2000, he enjoyed the vibe but wasn’t convinced the timing was quite right, until now. “I really enjoy hanging out in Salt Lake City, there is such a brilliant lifestyle that is comforting,” says Thompson. “There has been a lot of LGBTQ+ migration to Salt Lake City, there has been a normalizing of the liquor laws for a bar and restaurant environment, and I think the culture and the business environment is in a place for Salt Lake City to explode and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

For those wondering how Punch Bowl Social is any different from Dave and Busters, who set-up shop just last year at The Gateway. We have the DABC to thank for the main difference. Punch Bowl Social is a bar, not a restaurant giving the green light to those 21+ to patron. Dave & Busters maintains more of a family feel, being a great spot for kiddos to play games and parents to enjoy themselves too. 

Dubbed by local foodie critics as, “More Vegas, than Vernal.” Punch Bowl Social will delight the all of your senses with thoughtful design and odes to things that Utah is best known for. “The design bods took inspiration from SLC’s Olympic history and riffed backwards through time. There are fun Olympian/Greek effects throughout the space, bleeding into astrological/constellatory imagery. There are also several other nods to SLC: a hot Pink Floyd bedecked karaoke room through to copper toned seating and artwork, reflecting the states mining history.” Noted, Stuart Melling of Gastronomic SLC.

Venues like this popping up around town help add credibility to the city as a cool place to be. Every little thing counts when it comes to recruiting top talent to our state. Having an office less than a football field away doesn’t hurt either. Join in on the fun at the Grand Opening tonight at the Gateway, doors open to the public at 10 p.m. (no cover needed) and normal hours of operation begin tomorrow. Did someone say drinks and mini bowling after work? We’re in.