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Ogden’s Riverbend area undergoing change with construction, restaurant closures

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 24, 2023
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A 41-townhome development taking shape at 1839 Washington Blvd., near where the Ogden arch, seen at right, crosses over Washington Boulevard, is pictured Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The new development exemplifies the ongoing change in the area, dubbed Riverbend by city planners.
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A sign outside the structure that used to house Wimpy & Fritz at 352 Park Blvd. in Ogden, pictured Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, lets would-be customers know the locale has closed. Dirty Bird used to be in the space next door but it has also closed. The change exemplifies the ongoing evolution in the area, dubbed Riverbend by city planners.
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The now-unused building at 352 Park Blvd. that used to house Wimpy & Fritz and Dirty Bird, two restaurants that opened in September 2021 and have since closed, is pictured Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The change exemplifies the ongoing evolution in the area, dubbed Riverbend by city planners.

OGDEN — The Riverbend area near the Ogden River off the west side of Washington Boulevard seems to be ever-changing and evolving.

Two eateries that opened amid great fanfare in the area a little over two years ago, Dirty Bird and Wimpy & Fritz, have since closed and the building they shared sits unused. Meanwhile, new townhomes are quickly rising just to the north across the Ogden River — adjacent to the Ogden arch over Washington Boulevard — as the vacant land in the sector quickly fills.

The closure of Wimpy & Fritz, announced by the taco eatery’s two operators earlier this month in a Facebook post, is one of the latest changes in the area. Restaurant reps offered no comment to the Standard-Examiner, but the Facebook post offered some insight.

“As our lease draws to a close, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our brick-and-mortar business,” the post reads. “As many of you are aware, both of us are dedicated fathers and husbands who cherish our ties within the Ogden Community. This choice allows us to prioritize our families and other projects we’ve grown deeply passionate about. Keep an eye out for Wimpy & Fritz in the future.”

Dirty Bird, which featured chicken sandwiches and sat in the abutting space just west of Wimpy & Fritz, closed some time earlier. Lehi-based Wags Capital owns a controlling stake in Dirty Bird — which still has locations in  Riverton, Clearfield and Pleasant Grove, according to its website — but a company rep couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Lefty Montoya and Brian Zinsman operated Wimpy & Fritz at 352 Park Blvd. and continue operating the Ogden Beer Co., a brewpub just to the north at 358 Park Blvd. And while they kept mum, Ogden Beer Co. brewer Jacquie King is bullish on the beer prospects at that locale.

“Ogden Beer Company has seen success with our sustainable growth tactic that includes perfecting recipes, guaranteeing quality of draft beer and expanding into can distribution at the first of the year,” she said in an email to the Standard-Examiner. “We’ve created a beer selection unique to Northern Utah and we’re generating a buzz around craft beer locally.”

The best-selling Ogden Beer Co. beers, she said, are Cultura Cerveza, 1851 Craft Lager and Space Cruz IPA. “We always have a large selection of lagers on draft, which sets us apart from other breweries. Hoppy beer styles have been top sellers for years now, but we’re focusing on easy drinking beers that are approachable,” King said.

Riverbend, named by city planners, encompasses the area between 18th and 20th streets on the north and south and Washington Boulevard and Wall Avenue on the east and west. Also in the area are Bingham Cyclery, Gear:30, Ogden Running Co. and Fleet Feet along with the View on 20th apartment complex.

Salt Lake City-based Lotus Co. and its affiliated subsidiaries have been the motors behind a lot of the recent development in the Riverbend zone, including the 30-townhome development at the northeast corner of Grant Avenue and Park Boulevard. That’s just west of the former Dirty Bird-Wimpy & Fritz building, also owned by a Lotus company affiliate, same as the Ogden Beer Co. structure to the north.

A Lotus affiliate is also behind the 41-townhome development taking shape at 1839 Washington Blvd. on the north side of the Ogden River. The dwellings there, which loom over Washington Boulevard, though still incomplete, are quickly taking shape.

Bryan Wrigley, chief executive officer of Lotus Co., didn’t immediately respond to queries seeking comment on the Lotus plans in the area. Lotus is also behind the apartment complex taking shape adjacent to the Walmart at 20th Street and Wall Avenue, among other Ogden developments.

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