OGDEN — The popular pizzeria and pub Slackwater will pull up roots from its Washington Boulevard location and relocate closer to a new more spacious location taking shape in the city center.
It’s yet another shift in Ogden’s ever-evolving restaurant scene and a big step for the eatery, which will mark 10 years in the city in June. “It’s scary,” said Blake Hirschi, Slackwater’s director of operations, alluding to the uncertainty of relocating.
Simultaneously, Slackwater, which opened a location in Sandy in 2019, is in the process of renovating space in Salt Lake City to open a third location there, probably later in the year.
Construction of the new Ogden location at the southeast corner of 24th Street and Lincoln Avenue started in late March and should open sometime in September, Hirschi said. The kitchen in particular at the current location at 1895 Washington Blvd. is too small.
“Excitement. We’re going to have a better kitchen. That’s the most exciting part for me,” said Krissann Smith, the Slackwater co-owner.
Hirschi echoed that, but also said there will be more eating space for diners and a more open bar area, among other changes. “When you’re walking in, it will feel a little more open and airy,” he said.
Leaving the spot beside the Ogden River, which Slackwater had been leasing, will be a little tough. An outdoor seating area fronts the path beside the river. But the open area to the north on the other side of the Ogden River was too expensive, Hirschi said, and moving to the city center has its advantages.
“We’re excited to get more in the downtown area,” he said. He noted the ongoing upgrades to the nearby 24th Street viaduct, Lindquist Field, home to the Ogden Raptors baseball team, just to the north across 24th Street and the proximity of Historic 25th Street a block to the south. Beyond that, he said, Slackwater’s 80 or so employees are the restaurant’s most important asset “and they’re all coming with us.”
Slackwater will own the new building, taking shape in a portion of the Courtyard Ogden parking lot it acquired from Marriott, the hotel’s owner. A large “Slackwater” banner hangs on the fence on the perimeter of the location. The new digs will measure 6,834 square feet, according to paperwork filed with Ogden City, up from around 4,800 at the Washington Boulevard spot.
Slackwater will leave behind a burgeoning dining area near its current site. Ogden River Brewing opened to the west along Park Boulevard last October. Lotus Co. is building a new structure to the south of Ogden River Brewing that will house two new restaurants, Wimpy and Fritz, featuring tacos, and Dirty Bird, featuring fried chicken sandwiches.
Hirschi lauded the new growth, saying he thinks more dining options helps develop Ogden as a culinary stopping point. “It just helps our food scene. There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.
He’s not sure what may take the place of the current Slackwater location when the restaurant moves but suspects it will be a restaurant since it’s already built to accommodate such a business.
Building the new location is “expensive,” Hirschi said. But he also noted that the restaurant still kept relatively busy through much of 2020 despite the economic slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the restaurant had to close for about six weeks last year due to state restrictions meant to guard against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the firm’s revenue for 2020 came in at about the same level as in 2019.