Ogden restaurant crowd thrives during Sundance

Jan 17 2014 - 11:36am

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Rovali's, popular with the lunch crowd on Ogden's Historic 25th Street, will offer special menu specials during Sundance in Ogden, and will give a discount to ticket holders.  011514 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Rovali's head chef, Rogelio Nevarez, prepares his Italian specialties for Thursday's lunch crowd. Rovali's, on Historic 25th Street, will offer menu specials during Sundance in Ogden, and will give a discount to ticket holders.  011514 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Sundance Film Festival banners hang outside of Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The festival start in Park City on Thursday and the first films will begin in Ogden over the weekend. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Sundance Film Festival banners hang outside of Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The festival start in Park City on Thursday and the first films will begin in Ogden over the weekend. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Rovali's, popular with the lunch crowd on Ogden's Historic 25th Street, will offer special menu specials during Sundance in Ogden, and will give a discount to ticket holders.  011514 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Rovali's head chef, Rogelio Nevarez, prepares his Italian specialties for Thursday's lunch crowd. Rovali's, on Historic 25th Street, will offer menu specials during Sundance in Ogden, and will give a discount to ticket holders.  011514 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Sundance Film Festival banners hang outside of Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The festival start in Park City on Thursday and the first films will begin in Ogden over the weekend. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Sundance Film Festival banners hang outside of Peery's Egyptian Theater in Ogden on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The festival start in Park City on Thursday and the first films will begin in Ogden over the weekend. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Where the Sundance Film Festival goes, revenue follows.

Ogden's downtown restaurants won't enjoy the giant crowds of Park City eateries, where tens of thousands of out of towners all search for a place to eat. Ogden's Sundancers tend to be a more local crowd, with well-stocked kitchens of their own within easy driving distances of Peery's Egyptian Theater, Ogden's Sundance venue.

But several of Ogden's downtown restaurants do report that business increases by 15 to 20 percent on Sundance screening nights here.

"When Sundance is ongoing we usually do better," said Alex Montanez, who owns Rovali's, on Historic 25th Street. "We did really well last year, with quite a few people coming in. I talked to most of them, and a number of them were out of towners, most from Salt Lake."

Montanez has several strategies to draw in diners and add to the fun. He partners with several local hotels to offer guest packages. He also has offered special menu items, and he renames his menu staples during Sundance.

"We really get into the movie theme," he said.

Renamed entrees include Fistful of Dollars Fettucini Alfredo, a Streetcar Named Eggplant Parmesan and Some Like It Hot Chicken Tenders. Head chef Rogelio Nevarez also has created a flatbread prosciutto pizza.

"We wanted to give our visitors something like East Coast style pizza," Montanez said. People who show their Sundance tickets or stubs get a 15 percent discount.

Montanez said his favorite Sundance guest memories are associated with a New York family that visited to ski and screen the past two years. 

"They're regulars for one week a year," he said.

Montanez only remembers one Sundance celebrity who came to his restaurant.

"Have you heard of Pauly Shore?," he asked. "He came in. He ordered lattes and dinner, and everybody told me I needed to give it to him free because he was famous. I said, no, I don't give free food to anybody. Needless to say, he paid. He was very nice."

Kym Buttschardt owns Roosters Brewing Co., which has served Ogden customers since before Ogden was added as a Sundance site in 1997.

"Sundance is awesome for our entire community, and seems to have more movies every year," Buttschardt said. "We've been supporters since it started with just a few movies."

Buttschardt estimated she sees her business bump up by 20 percent during Ogden Sundance screenings.

"We see a spike in sales every night there is a movie, and so do our neighbors," she said. "We do even better when there are two movies in a night."

Roosters plans several special menu choices that can be served quickly, to accommodate Sundance fans in a hurry, she said.

"We always get a healthy crowd, and we love the excitement and action Sundance brings," she said.

Shana Hubbard owns Hearth on 25th, formerly known as JASOH! Prime & Pub. Hearth on 25th will also offer a Sundance discount, $5 off on a bill of $25 or more if diners show tickets or stubs for that night's screening.

"Sundance launches us into the busy season," Hubbard said. "Sundance also happens when the ski season is taking off, so it meshes with increased tourism." Sundance boosts her business by about 15 percent, she said.

Hubbard said her restaurant often draws filmmakers.

"We get some wrap parties," she said. "People associated with the movie come in because Ogden is their first screening, or their final festival screening is here. Sometimes they even show their films in our dining room, and watch it while they eat dinner. It's always exciting to be participating in the excitement, and it's fun to see people involved in creating the film."

Hubbard said she wishes area restaurants could be more involved with Sundance, hosting filmmaker events scheduled through Sundance.

"I know the heart of the festival is in Park City, but there's enough action in Ogden. I think it would be nice if we could reach out and offer our services to program creators," she said.

The Historic 25th Street Association also will host its ambassadors again this year, Montanez said. Volunteers wearing vests will share current and historic information about Ogden, and will direct people looking for food, drink or live music to a nearby provider.

Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or nvan@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.

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