The Red Door: Salt Lake City’s sleekest bar

Story and photos by MORGAN PARENT

Glasses clink together and again as they’re set on glass table tops throughout the room. The music is at the perfect volume for listening without having to shout to hold a conversation. You feel relaxed here.

This is the Red Door that faithful patrons have come to know and love.

IMG_6927Opened in October 2002, “the Red Door became the second non-smoking club in Salt Lake at a time when bars were private clubs which allowed smoking,” said Louise Hannig, the owner. “My vision was a comfortable warehouse vibe with a unique martini menu and liquor selection.”

Hannig’s vision continues to live on after 17 years. The Salt Lake City bar, located at 57 W. 200 South, specializes in craft martinis, cocktails, and ambiance. The red painted brick with subtle artwork, exposed lighting, and odd monkey in the corner give the spot an eccentric feeling, unlike any other in the city.

IMG_6926Getting the joint going was no small task. In the beginning, Hannig spent hours at the bar for eight months straight, working out the quirks and making sure it could run smoothly. Although preparing to open was occasionally challenging, the hard work and personality that went into the creation is evident.

The lighting was custom-made, the tables were handmade by a local artist, and Hannig and her friends painted the brick walls.

Down to the bartender name tags, the Red Door is a full experience. Though some say the styling of the name tags was a bold choice, “it actually happened as a happy accident,” Hannig said. “We had just opened the bar, but I hadn’t planned any name tags yet. A friend who was helping me said she had her actual missionary name tag with her, so she wore it the night we opened. We took the idea from there and I used a favorite line from my favorite show as a kid, “MASH,” and tweaked the wording.”

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The name tags read “Sister” or “Brother” then the name of the bartender, followed by “Church of the Emotionally Tired and Morally Bankrupt.” This play on the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues in the design of the A-Frame sidewalk board in front of the bar.

IMG_6919Martyn Duniho, a University of Utah graduate student, is a Red Door regular. He’s been patronizing the establishment for a few years and considers the Vesper Martini his go-to mix. “This is by far my favorite place to get a drink,” Duniho said. “The staff are excellent at what they do, and the crowd is rarely too rowdy. Weekend nights can get a little crazy, but weekday nights are just perfect.”IMG_6920

Lynnae Larsen-Jones, manager of the establishment, said those who know Red Door believe in its great drinks and mature atmosphere. Alternately, those who aren’t familiar with the bar tend to think it may be too fancy for them, there is a dress code, or it’s only for old people.

About this reputation, Duniho said he “fully agrees. The atmosphere can’t be beat, but before visiting the first time I assumed it would be a snooty kind of place.” Now he can’t imagine going anywhere else.

The people who frequent the Red Door are certainly a spread of personalities. Larsen-Jones said the people have been the most interesting part of working at the bar over the last 16 years. “Especially the couples who come in for a few drinks then start fighting with each other and want the bartender to weigh in on the argument, tell them which one is right, or play therapist. But that kind of situation isn’t super common,” she said.

“Most of the guests coming in are generally pretty alright — just weird in their own ways,” said Larsen-Jones. No matter the attitude of the customer, Larsen-Jones’ philosophy of bartending is to “be nice no matter what and don’t ruin your own night. Also, don’t worry about tips. You don’t know what’s going on for other people.”

As diverse as the individuals drinking here are, the types of cocktails are equally varied. Hannig has seen bar trends change time and again over her nearly 30 years of bartending.

IMG_6930Vodka martinis and drinks such as the Cosmopolitan and sour apple martini were very popular when the Red Door opened. Bourbon and other classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned were in vogue next, around five to seven years ago.

Gin has been the preferred drink base recently, although it was rarely ordered in a martini or craft cocktail 15 years ago. Tequila and mezcal, liquors which are typically shot, seem to be next up in the ever-evolving cocktail mix craze.

Witness to these changing trends, Larsen-Jones has adapted to each new style. No single drink tops her list of favorite drinks to make. Rather, making something up on the spot provides her the opportunity to have fun and use her knowledge of how flavors mix to create something in line with the customer’s desires.

“I don’t know how she does it, but every drink Lynnae makes is amazing,” Duniho said. “I can ask her to include a couple specific ingredients then she does her thing and hands me something delicious.”

At the end of the day, owning the bar throughout the years has been worth the effort to Hannig: “Pouring what you love to do in every drink makes a bar successful.”

 

The startup of Simply Açaí at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by GRIFFIN BONJEAN

University of Utah student Seth Neelman, 23, has opened his first location for his company Simply Açaí in the Lassonde Studios building on campus. 

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he spent two years on a religious mission in Brasilia, Brazil, to help the community. 

While in Brazil, he met the friends who introduced him to açaí berries. “It was like the most amazing thing ever,” Neelman said, “and from then on out I was eating açaí like two to three times a week.” 

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Freshly made Simply Açaí Power Bowl.

After finding his love for açaí, he later joined a summer 2019 internship with Makai Fruits. It is a company that ships hand-picked açaí berries from the Amazon Forest to customers in the US. Through the internship, Neelman got to travel to Belem, Brazil, to check the açaí harvest and factory.

Neelman also met and helped support locals in Brazil by purchasing bracelets made from the açaí berry shells. He handed them out for free after opening in Lassonde on Aug. 19, 2019. 

Neelman believes that this internship taught him information that was used to help the start of Simply Açaí. He also credits Lassonde for giving him his entrepreneurial spirit because he lived there as a freshman student. 

Being a student at the U helped him gain the ability to connect with the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and its food partner Chartwells Catering. Neelman wanted to stay on campus with Simply Açaí and felt that the food trailer in the Lassonde lobby would be a good place to start. 

In order to open, he had to hire employees. Neelman said, “First I started with a manager because I wanted someone that was familiar with the restaurant industry.” He wanted someone who would lead by example and enforce the rules involving cleanliness and health codes. Neelman interviewed the job candidates. He said many of the employees whom he found were references from other employees. Not only did he want to find good employees, but he wanted to create an experience where his employees could have fun and enjoy the work.

Employee Reid Lanigan feels that Neelman has succeeded in doing so. “I’ve loved it so far,” Lanigan said. “I have class after it on some days and class before it on some days so it works out well with my schedule.” 

Lanigan only works an average of three shifts a week with each of his shifts only lasting about three hours. He works Monday mornings, and Tuesday and Thursday lunch shifts. His duties are to follow the health codes as he makes food that customers order from the menu and to serve it to them. He said the company encourages employees to “try to get the food out as fast as possible and try to make sure that the food is correct.”

The menu displayed on the red and white Lassonde trailer gives students a variety of different açaí bowl options. Each item on the menu contains the pureed frozen açaí palm fruit berries. Customers are also able to choose additional toppings like dark chocolate chips, goji berries, almond butter, Nutella, and many more. 

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Employee Reid Lanigan adding the final ingredient into a customer’s açaí bowl.

An avocado toast menu is now a new addition to the menu items that are offered to add to the different flavors. Avocado toast is an example of how businesses have to make adjustments to change. Employee Grayson Goodyear has had to deal with business changes for the company. He said, “We’ve actually started to run out a lot mid week and I’ve had to do two grocery store runs for Seth [Neelman].” The employees of Simply Açaí are adjusting as the business makes its way through its early stages.

These changes contribute to the success of the startup of Simply Açaí, and the employees face these changes to help with company success. Goodyear believes that the bosses did well with hiring their employees. He thinks this is important. “Seth has done a really good job hiring just like friendly people and people that seem inviting to the customers, and I think that creates a lot of attention,” he said. 

Goodyear believes that this attention to the relationships that are built between the friendly employees and customers contribute greatly to the success of the business. 

When it comes to the success of the business, customers returning is one of the ways to measure Simply Açaí’s success. “It started off a little slow, but after the first couple of weeks it picked up,” employee Reid Lanigan said about his first few shifts after opening. “The longer it’s been open, the more word has definitely spread.” He believes that the company continues to grow as it gets further and further away from its opening day.

As a student entrepreneur, Neelman feels that he is able to gain knowledge in the classroom that he can apply to his business. In a follow-up FaceTime interview he said, “It is kind of cool now that I’m in a lot of my management and leadership classes, like that make sense or that would work in my situation.” Neelman has started his journey toward success as a college student entrepreneur.

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Park City locals discuss Epic and Icon Passes’ impact on the community

Story and photographs by ASHLEIGH THOMAS

Vail’s Epic Pass and Altera’s Icon Pass have changed and shaped the landscape of the modern-day ski culture and business. Park City, Utah, is growing and changing at a rapid rate due to the passes. They invite skiers and snowboarders all over the world to buy a single ski pass that allows them to ski at multiple ski resorts.

Utah locals must prepare and consider the new changes to the Utah ski industry as the upcoming season approaches.

Park City is home to Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Mountain Resort, two culturally rich and unique ski areas that many people call home. These passes are altering the “Park City ski culture” as we know it, in part because the ski industry has been globalized on a huge scale. These passes give access to resorts all over the world including in Australia, Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. But at this scale what are the lasting effects on small ski towns like Park City and the Park City way of life? Are these passes changing the industry for the better or for worse?

Many locals have described their feelings about the Icon and Epic Passes’ impact on Park City as a mix of good and bad.

Kathy Burke, the buyer for Cole Sport, described her feelings in an email interview about whether the Icon and Epic pass are beneficial to Park City or not. “I have mixed feelings about this. Being in retail, I am in favor of controlled growth and commerce. The town has grown and has more job opportunities for jobs.” However, she added, “the impact on traffic and the carbon footprint is having an impact on this town.”

Another Park City local, Renee Godin, PSIA ski instructor and level 300 ski coach USSA, discussed her experience with the growth. Godin said in an email interview that she has noticed the town has become busier. She also has experienced the impact of increased tourism with crowded restaurants, scarce parking spots, and slower commutes. “These are problems that locals find to be annoying, but more tourists for the local business is what it’s all about, it is what a small town thrives on. Tourist dollars, and that’s what people sometimes forget.”

Park City is known all over the world for being a unique ski town with something for everyone to enjoy and experience. Park City’s charm and ski culture is what made many Park City locals want to lay down roots and live there. “What brought me to Park City was the idea of being able to jump on a bus and ski 3 different ski areas, in one town making a European experience in the middle of the USA!” Godin said.

Park City’s Historic Main Street is one of the main attractions of Park City. Burke said Main Street is changing quickly due to the fact national corporate retail chains are seeing incentives to open their shops where locally-owned business have existed for years.

“My favorite characteristic is the community spirit of Park City and its heritage to its mining history,” Burke said, “specifically characterized through the historic commitment to preserving Main Street and Old Town. I think the Epic and Icon transition is bringing a commercial element to Main Street with its national chain stores. The growth in mono brand stores and national chains diminished the charm and uniqueness of specialty retail and character and integrity of Main Street.”

The economic development and change in the community’s character aren’t the only things that are evolving from the Icon and Epic Passes. The “on the hill” experience is also changing, said Chuck English, a former mountain manager at Deer Valley. He added that a couple of years ago locals could ski on wide open runs on the weekdays and sometimes even on the weekends. But that is no longer a reality. The number of visitors on the hill has greatly increased, creating longer lines, crowded runs, and busy lodges.

“The Icon has definitely changed DV (Deer Valley). Their stated intention of limiting skiers to the maintain quality experiences has gone by the wayside. They are not able to limit Icon pass holders even though they encourage them to make reservations,” English said in an email interview.

The Icon and Epic Passes may be attractive to some and less attractive to others. When asked about the expense of skiing and the experience as a whole, English added, “To a person who is already a skier the passes make it more affordable. Season pass prices were getting very expensive and I feel like some people might have started to drop out based on cost.” He thinks that there is less of an incentive and focus for new skiers to participate or buy a season pass. “This is a serious problem for the industry,” he said. This is an aspect that will change ski culture in the long term and is something to consider for new skiers and snowboarders.

With all things considered the Epic and Icon pass are creating an evolved modern ski and snowboard experience. They are a force to be reckoned with and will have a lasting impact on the industry and ski culture in Park City.

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Utah musicians discuss struggles for work and appreciation from residents

Story and illustrations by NATALIE ZULLO

Upon graduating from college, professional musicians look toward their careers with hope. But outside of the campus, they worry about their careers due to the lack of professional opportunities available.

Hallie Mosteller, a violin teacher in the Sandy, Utah, area and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square said, “I maybe thought I would have a little more option. But I have found that I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I never thought I would have, like the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Joanne Andrus, owner of Andrus Music, agrees that there are a lot of opportunities in Utah for music. She said, “I think the thing that’s great about living in Utah is that that there are a lot of avenues, a lot of venues, that you can use to make money.”

But opportunities to share music on the professional level do not come to everyone. “I think if you have a talent level, there is a lot of work out there,” Andrus added. “But you have to be the best of the best to have those kinds of opportunities.”

Those musicians who are not “the best of the best” worry about their financial future.

In a previous interview, Kasia Sokol-Borup, assistant violin professor and director of the String Preparatory Division of the University of Utah’s School of Music, said, “When people think that what we do is just this constant inspired magical moment, they feel that we should feel lucky when we’re asked to do that in front of other people.”

Mosteller, violinist in the Orchestra at Temple Square, said she gets asked to do a lot of performances for free. “Especially in Utah, you get asked to do a lot of church things like performing in church. It definitely takes a lot of work to be able to make a living performing. It’s tough. I’m a little worried about it.”

To help make ends meet, many musicians have turned to teaching children and owning their own studios. But they fear that their rates are an issue for parents.

“I do feel like music is highly valued and the arts are very import to our culture,” Andrus said. “But I do feel like people don’t like to spend a ton of money.” Andrus charges $25 per private lesson but has had experiences with parents who refuse to pay her rates.

Mosteller, who is both performing and teaching, said she worries about her future as a teacher. “I feel like you hit a brick wall teaching. I probably would need to get another job.”

Sarah Affleck, Utah mother of six, feels differently about the rates musicians offer. She said in reference to hiring private music instructors for her children, “Price was never an issue for us because we were happy to invest in that for our children. I would pay their prices because I know how genius they are.” No matter how high the price of the musician, Affleck said she feels that music is a long-term investment for her children. It is a skill that can be taken with them throughout their lives no matter their age.

Affleck’s children have been privately taught piano, guitar, voice, cello and composition from instructors around the Salt Lake Valley. When asked if Affleck hired an instructor based on a music degree and skill, she replied, “Their background in music education was less important to me. What was important to me with the instructor was how well they interacted with children. That was probably the number one over degrees or skill.”

Mosteller has felt in her performing career that her degree is not as important to employers as her skill and experience. She said, “I feel like experience is definitely more valued, like with the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Musicians tend to take up other musical careers to help with finances giving private lessons, including teaching the arts in school orchestras, choirs and bands. But musicians are seeing the loss of music in the education system.

Sokol-Borup said, “I think the fact that people ask for so much music and [desire] it shows that music actually is a basic human need, which when you look at the way our education works, it’s as if it wasn’t.”

In reference to the current school system, Andrus said, “It’s not just STEM it should be STEAM. It shouldn’t just be science, technology, engineering and math. We need to throw the arts in there. Because that’s what makes our children people. That is what humanizes all of us is the arts.”

Leslie Henire, concert mistress of Sinfonia Salt Lake, also has noticed the lack of arts in the lives of children. “It’s necessary for us as humans to have beauty and art and culture in our lives. I just don’t see any other way. It’s a necessity and it’s becoming less and less,” she said.

Affleck feels strongly about music in the lives of children. She wants her own kids to be involved in music “for their own self-expression and creativity. Music is a powerful brain tool.” She added, “It can be used for education. It stimulates the brain.”

For many Utah musicians and parents, music is crucial in school curriculums and individual lives. Andrus said it is also a crucial part of humanity.

“That creative part of life gives a huge reason to get out of bed every day and if we lose that, we lose part of our culture, part of our humanity and we lose all the benefits that come to our brains by creating and being more than just robots,” Andrus said. “We have things that we can accomplish that are so much bigger if we include the arts in our curriculum for our kids and in our lives as adults.”

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Salt Lake City’s juicing scene is on the rise

Story and gallery by LAUREN HINKLEY

Nutritious eateries and shops seem to be on every corner in Salt Lake City, an indication that the community is becoming more health-conscious by the minute.

One of the most powerful trends of this healthy-dining movement is cold-pressed juice bars.

This form of juicing involves a hydraulic press that extracts juices from fruits and vegetables. Consumers often choose these products based on their desired mental or physical health benefits. These benefits can be determined by the ingredients included in each individual batch.

In Salt Lake City, juiceries including Vive Juicery, Just Organic Juice, and Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe are among some of the companies that are leading Utah toward better health with their nutrient-dense cold-pressed beverages.

Upon entering Vive Juicery, located at 1597 S. 1100 East, customers are greeted and welcomed into a cozy, chic atmosphere. With couch seating, ambient music, and a fun and friendly counter staff, this store is an inviting space for anyone and everyone looking to explore and be educated on the health benefits of cold-pressed juice. This is the exact vibe Brittany Shimmin, founder and CEO, had in mind when she created Vive Juicery in 2013.

“We’ve really tailored the experience to be inclusive of everyone,” Shimmin says.

Shimmin appreciates the wide variety of clientele she sees engaging with and supporting Vive’s brand and product. Even those who are just entering the world of nutrition and healthy living can find Vive to be the perfect place to start.

Sitting conveniently between two major college campuses of Salt Lake City, the juicery has become a hot spot for students of The University of Utah and Westminster College.

Many students are now turning to cold-pressed juices during the stresses of midterms and finals week. “Hearing what drinking juice has done for them opposed to a Red Bull has been really cool,” says Shimmin, reflecting on this new trend.

At the forefront of the local juice scene, Vive contributes even more to the community than just its state-of-the-art products. By sourcing its produce from local farms and gardens whenever possible, Vive is making a positive impact on the economy and sustainability of Utah.

Shimmin and the Vive team are passionate about forming relationships with the farmers who grow their ingredients. “When you can talk to the person that grew your food, you in turn will end up appreciating it more,” she says.

Just a few blocks away at 2030 S. 900 East sits another local juice bar, Just Organic Juice, the creation of cancer survivor, Lisa Graham.

When Graham was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, she opted out of chemotherapy and turned to nutrition to help nurture her back to health. After implementing juice into her diet, she recalls immediately seeing the benefits. She has been cancer free ever since.

Graham stated that the impacts cold-pressed juice had on her own health inspired her to start Just Organic Juice where she could show the rest of the community just how beneficial juicing can be.

“We see a lot of customers with cancer and other diseases,” Graham says. She also mentions that she has noticed a growing awareness in the importance of nutrition across the medical field.

Graham says she believes this new importance doctors are placing on nutrition has contributed to the growing popularity in her business. “More doctors are advising patients to change their diets,” she says.

With juiceries popping up all across Salt Lake City, Just Organic Juice continues to stand out from the rest by serving products that contain only 100 percent organic ingredients.

The most popular juice on the menu at Just Organic Juice is the “Giving Green.” “I could go on and on,” Graham admits as she raves about the product’s health benefits. “You couldn’t even eat that many vitamins and nutrients in a day.”

Another up-and-coming juice spot is Seasons Juice Bar. Seasons is located in Midvale at 7630 Union Park Ave. and is proudly owned and run by juice enthusiast Bobby Movarid.

When Movarid moved from Santa Monica, California, to Salt Lake City, he was driven to show Utah what cutting-edge high-quality health food and beverage really is.

Movarid says he saw what was missing around town and knew he would be the one to introduce truly good cold-pressed juices and acai to the community. That’s when he started Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe.

Movarid has used his entrepreneurial mind to curate a delicious and nutritious menu of cold-pressed juices. He says he is eager to encourage new customers to sample them.

The “Black Lemonade” remains one of the most popular juices at Seasons. This pitch-black beverage is a little intimidating at first glance but has a pleasant flavor of lemon and agave. The key ingredient is activated charcoal, a detoxifying ingredient, which is explained in the company’s juice guides and pamphlets.

Movarid has put care and attention into every aspect of the Seasons experience, from the biodegradable utensils to the complimentary water. “Our water is alkalized and purified using reverse osmosis,” he explains.

Seasons in the product of Movarid’s extensive hard work. “You gotta hustle!” he exclaims.

While the juicing scene is already flourishing, there’s no doubt it’s still growing every day. Brittany Shimmin, Lisa Graham, and Bobby Movarid are among some of the pioneers of a movement toward a healthier Utah. Through their craft, they are inspiring the community of Salt Lake City to prioritize wellness, one juice at a time.

Tayler Lacey talks new EP and journey to being a musician

Story and gallery by JENNA S. O’DELL

Tayler Lacey performed at The Underground at 833 Main St. in Salt Lake City on a cold March night. It is an industrial-looking building down a narrow alley. The door is marked only by band stickers. Inside, the walls are plastered with stickers and graffiti. There are small rooms that line a long dark hallway that can can be rented out to bands for practicing and performances.

It was $5 to get in this atypical venue. The room is lit with fluorescent bulbs. You can hear the sounds of musicians practicing in other rooms and the performance was unplugged.

Tayler Lacey, 22, is a Utah native who currently resides in South Jordan. At 13 he started guitar lessons. Lacey plays several instruments and admits his selection of genre influenced his choice in the ones he wanted to play.

He describes his genre as folk but credits many artists including Jack Johnson for influencing his love for acoustic music. Shakey Graves inspired him to be a “one-man band.” He enjoys the simplicity and storytelling of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and said “lyrically, Paul Simon is a genius.” 

Lacey describes writing a song as a mindset, not a mood. “I have to be by myself because it’s hard to get other people on the same wavelength.” 

Performing is Lacey’s favorite part about being a musician. His hope is to make an impact on those he’s performing for, and that they can connect with his music. With all the live performing he does, the performance anxiety he initially felt transitioned to anticipation and excitement.

“I would tell my younger self to not get discouraged and to stop comparing yourself to others,” he said. “Do it because you love it not because you want to get famous.”

During his March performance, there was a lot of interaction with the crowd which consisted of friends and local music enthusiasts. One admitted this was her first time going to the Underground and jokingly said, “I’m going to get murdered going to this place.” Lacey’s set consisted of some songs from his previous albums and from his new EP. His song “Ghosts” was a crowd favorite, everyone was singing along.

He said that this EP is different than everything else that he has out. “I think it was a very transitional time in my life. I started doing solo music again after breaking up with my guitar player. I was also moving from place to place and going through transition in relationships. I chose the name “Street Corners” because of the love of busking and hearing street performers play but also because through every change I feel Salt Lake is my home and the street corners never change.”

Tayler Lacey’s new EP “Street Corners” is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Bandcamp. If you would like to see Lacey perform, he will be touring the Pacific Northwest Summer 2019.

Utahns finding success for personal brands and business is largely thanks to their social media presence

Story and gallery by ISABELLE CURRAN

Utah and social media. How are these two big entities related?

For the past four years, social media has become less of a memory sharing platform, and more of a business. Almost anywhere you look, there are people trying to make a brand off of themselves or otherwise enhance their growing businesses.

This phenomenon is especially apparent in Utah. Many Utahns have strong social media followings in the hundreds of thousands.

While social media might be newer and has helped more people gain success and more exposure, many top social media people in Utah started with their own blogs. Themes of such profiles and blogs range from health and wellness to fashion, art, and lifestyle.

Social media platforms are the new hub of bloggers, specifically Instagram. Instagram first came on the market in October 2010, its original purpose being a streamlined photo sharing and editing site.

Nowadays, Instagram is a balance of real-life content and advertisements, which has proved to be the secret to success. Mixing the right amount of business and personal attributes bode well with internet communities.  

One San Diego State University student, Karis Bailey, 19, who is very outwardly vocal about the Utah social media scene, says, “Many accounts I follow of Utahns are inspiring and they make me want to go and experience what they are experiencing.”

Bailey has been active on social media, specifically Instagram, for close to seven years. Around two years ago she noticed that some of the people she follows, whom she didn’t know personally, were mostly from Utah.

“These people make their followers feel almost like family members,” Bailey says. “They are all very humble and grounded individuals.”

Bailey explains that she feels as though most of the Utah-based people that she follows create authentic content that engages followers into their lives.

Some of the Instagram accounts she shared are Cara Loren (@caraloren), The Bucket List Family (@thebucketlistfamily), and The Devines (@haileydevine, @bradleydevine, @somewheredevine).

For businesses, is it wise to utilize Instagram? Even newer than the concept of social media personalities is that of making your social media profile into a business. Now, posting and reviewing products on a profile can turn a profit.

The balance of original and personal content with ads and promotions is a tricky one.

“It is all right when they genuinely like the product they are advertising but I think there is a limit to what and how much you advertise something,” Bailey says. “Pushing things on to followers is unethical but I see nothing wrong with suggesting.”

Social media in Utah serves as a large community for people to connect and share ideas with each other. A popular social media Utahn who can attest to this is Renata Stone.

Although she is a newer Utah resident, her Instagram and company success is constantly influenced and inspired by her surroundings. With over 21,000 followers, her Instagram (@renatastone) is the connection between her business, her personal images, and her followers.

After Stone and her husband bought a house together, she started making macramé pieces to decorate their house.

To transform her creative hobby into a business, Stone utilizes her website and Instagram to share her inspiration, existing creations, and allow for commission requests.

In an email interview, Stone says, “Being authentic and real is the only thing that matters.”

Providing an accurate visual representation of one’s life is an essential way to gain favor with followers and promoting loyalty.

Stone says she does not consider herself a typical Utah social media personality, but recognizes that her Instagram very much follows a theme, something very common in not only successful Instagram pages in general, but Utahn Instagram pages especially.

“I think my Instagram account is as much about me as a human (or at least what I choose to expose to the outside world) as it is about my work. I think as an artist the personal and professional go hand-in-hand —it’s almost like you are your brand,” Stone writes.

Social media platforms are not only central to personal profiles but also to enhance businesses, as Stone noted. Normal Ice Cream is a food truck that is standing its ground among retail storefronts at Trolley Square, using Instagram to do so.

The Normal Ice Cream website and Instagram profile (@normal.club) give a comprehensive overview of the products as well as the story behind it all.

Owner Alexa Norlin, who has been a pastry chef for eight years, decided the ice cream business was more her speed after working in popular Salt Lake restaurants such as The Rose Establishment, Current Fish & Oyster, Fresco Italian Cafe, Cafe Trio Downtown, Cafe Trio Cottonwood, and Faustina and Niche.

She opened the Normal Ice Cream truck and became operational in June 2017. Later the truck took up residence in Trolley Square starting in January 2018 and has been there ever since.  

Norlin praises Instagram saying, “I truly think that I would be out of business without Instagram.”

The Normal Ice Cream truck is an example of good social media marketing. The Normal team utilizes its profile to promote the business by posting photos of products, updating hours, sharing, and serving as a place to allow customers to connect with the business.

Norlin says that, “Instagram has allowed a really natural way to engage with customers on a seemingly one-to-one basis.”

She has noticed the social media Utah phenomenon, but her social media involvement is mostly consumed by being a business profile only, not a personal journal. Still, Norlin credits her business’ success largely thanks to a clear and consistent social media presence.

Utah will continue to be the house a substantial amount of popular social media figures. For those who have a business and those who wish to share their lives online, Instagram seems to be the desired platform.

Looking into the future, there is no limit to how influential social media platforms can be to people’s personal brands and the business they create.


The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet

Story and photo gallery by CAMILLE AGLAURE

With so much talk concerning diet in the media, many people find it difficult to know what to eat. What foods are ethically sourced and grown? What foods truly promote human health? What foods support the health of the planet? These are all questions that are fogging up the minds of so many people.  

One thing that Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and a professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, and Anne Pesek Taylor, registered dietitian, at the University of Utah can both agree on is that, generally speaking, a healthier plate is one with more plants and less overly processed foods and added sugar. 

Pesek Taylor said in an email interview that balanced nutrition needs to account for individual food preferences, lifestyle factors, and include a variety of food groups so it can be maintained long-term. Pesek Taylor referred to the University of Utah’s Healthy Eating Plate, an adaptation of the government’s MyPlate created in 2011, as a useful guide to good health.

What does this mean for meat and dairy, though?

Studies like the popular health book “The China Study” and documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”detail the harmful effects to humans and the environment that come with the consumption of animal-based foods. Jalili said he believes that the absolute exclusion of animal-based foods is not necessarily vital. However, regarding meat, “a little still means a little,” he said. 

Jalili said the maximum recommended intake of red meat is 100 grams per day while the maximum for processed meat is 50 grams. “Once a day is still a lot,” he said, and as far as human health is concerned, many studies indicate that there is, in fact, a decrease in mortality rate among those who maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. When considering environmental health, there is slightly more to be taken into account when writing out your grocery list.

As more media attention surrounds the question of climate change versus animal agriculture, many organizations and communities are reevaluating the importance of animal-based foods, particularly meat, in a standard, western diet. 

“Raising cows is an environmental disaster,” Jalili said. With animal agriculture accounting for 91 percent of rainforest deforestation, according to The World Bank, and more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, according to the United Nations, Jalili said he believes that it is time for groups of people, like nutritionists, to not focus on health alone, but the bigger picture. “It’s just responsible,” he said. 

So, is a universal vegan diet the solution?

In the opinion of Christy Clay, Ph.D., an associate professor at Westminster College who teaches courses on subjects including biology, ecology, and environmental studies, “a homogenous, universal diet is exactly what has caused so many problems in our current food system.”

Clay said she believes that the current food system has created a monster of unequal distribution of foods, the elimination of native crops and variation, and potentially the loss of culture and professions. 

“We’re not understanding the limitations and values of local resources,” Clay said, as she explained the harms in seeking mainstream foods that do not naturally occur locally. Clay used the example of quinoa, a grain that grows in the Andes that is now exported to Western countries more than it is provided for locals who have depended on the grain in their diets for centuries. To be truly sustainable and ethical, Clay maintained that “diets should be bio-regional.”

For Clay, the ethical question of which foods to eat is not as simple as drastically lowering our consumption of meat. Rather, “there’s a whole dismantling of a current food system that needs to happen,” Clay said as she painted a picture of just how disrupted our way of eating has become. 

So, where do we begin?

Clay suggested that the first action to take is having the conversation about “how broken our food system is.” This consists of poor income for those in the agriculture industry, the cost and precarious nature of leasing land to farmers, a decline in community gardens, and loss of interest in crops that have fallen out of the mainstream.

“What does it look like to say we actually value this profession?” wondered Clay as she additionally suggested encouraging communities to be a space for local gardening. Already, there are a number of organizations working to do just that, including Green Urban Lunch Box, which goes from school to school, educating children on the value of local gardening while furthermore educating local farmers. 

Making a difference in your community requires collective action to encourage local agriculture and farming. Clay suggested gardening out of your own backyard. If you live in an apartment complex, ask your landlord or property owner about creating a roof garden. Clay also suggested engaging with other community gardens and protecting land to be used for local farming. Getting back in touch with a farm-to-table way of eating is imperative for a sustainable diet. Rekindling a healthy and community-based relationship with food is the best way for individuals to eat ethically, healthily, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

Comics create common ground in Salt Lake City

Story and photo gallery by GREG HOUSE

It’s Wednesday and for those in the know, that means new editions of their favorite comic books are hitting the shelves at Black Cat Comics, located at 2261 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City.

The walls of Black Cat Comics are brightly colored, seeming to come from the comics that line its shelves. Customers walk in and out throughout the day and Greg Gage — the man behind the operation — greets many of them by name, often with a prearranged stack of new arrivals set aside for the customer to purchase.

Gage grew up reading comic books, but gradually stopped as he got older.

“I kind of got back into them on a whim,” he said. “I picked up a couple of books I used to read and was like ‘God, this is cool,’ and after that, it was over.”

Gage reintroduced himself to comics as a young adult and he saw that the stories being told were not just the shallow, fun superhero romps he remembers from his childhood.

“There’s some real, honest-to-God literature in here,” he said. “It’s not just people jumping around like idiots punching people. There’s more to this than I thought.”

When he decided to open his own comic book store in 2004, he knew that creating a welcoming environment for his customers and hiring employees who understood that were both key ingredients for this business, which celebrated 15 years in business in May 2019.

With such a wide selection to choose from, there are many reasons why fans like Kyle Jackson keep reading comic books.

“I like reading a lot of different titles that show characters who are something to aspire to,” he said. “Not that I think I can learn to have superpowers, but the people underneath the masks are what is great to me.”

Taylor Hoffman used to shop at a different comic book store. But, after feeling like her reading choices were being judged by some of the employees, she started shopping at Black Cat Comics. She said she found the sense of community she was looking for.

“I immediately felt so much better, like I had a place to go,” she said. “After I graduated college, I kept coming by until Greg hired me and started paying me to stick around and talk about comics.”

As an employee at Black Cat Comics for more than five years, Hoffman tries to make sure that even younger readers feel like equal members of the community.

“I just love picking out things for little kids,” she said. “Especially younger girls because I wish I had that when I was a kid.”

Over the years, Hoffman has seen some of the store’s regular customers come in with their newborn babies and as those babies grow up she starts to recommend comics for them as well as their parents.

The all-ages section of Black Cat Comics is home to books featuring characters from Saturday morning cartoons as well as child-friendly versions of heroes who might otherwise be considered too violent.

“This is my baby,” she said, motioning to the all-ages section of the store. “I try to read all of these so I know how to talk to the kids who come in.”

It isn’t hard to see why a child would enjoy a weekly trip to the comic book store and Hoffman thinks comics can be an educational tool for them as well.

“Comics are such a great medium for younger kids to get into the habit of reading because there’s the picture books without as many words and then they graduate into [books with] more speech bubbles,” she said.

However, comic books are not just a children’s medium any more. A wide variety of heroes means there is a character for everyone, especially with the bigger publishers like Marvel Comics, who are pushing for more diversity in their mainstream lineup of characters.

Whether it is a young woman of color taking over the mantel of Ironman, now Ironheart, or a revelation that the X-Men team member known as Iceman has come out of the closet as a gay man, diversity plays an increasingly important role in today’s comic book landscape.

Sina Grace, who wrote the now concluded Iceman series for Marvel said on a public Instagram story post about writing inclusive stories, “To my knowledge, no publisher puts something out simply cuz it’s LGBTQ friendly,” he wrote. “Even Iceman, the reasoning was: there’s a story to be told about a man dealing with a secret he’s kept for 10+ years, not THAT he’s gay.”

When Gage first opened his store, he wanted to create a place where everyone can feel welcomed, regardless of their identity or background.

“Inclusivity makes more people feel more welcome in this space,” Gage said, “and that’s what I want, both from a business standpoint and a community standpoint.”

Instagram taking the advertising world by storm

Story and gallery by RILEY SPEAR

Instagram is the largest social media and advertising platform in the world and it continues to grow its users daily by the thousands. Organizations and businesses have taken advantage of the Instagram platform to advertise their products, target their audiences and create awareness for their cause, all for free.

Salt Lake City is a hub for startup companies that don’t have the funds in their marketing departments to pay for advertisements.

Individuals from three local companies, The Hut Group, Beauty Industry, and STEM, have worked closely with Instagram, and have accepted the large role it plays in their marketing techniques.

Beauty Industry specializes in hair, lashes and fashion. Paige Johnson is a member of the social media team who works with Instagram to promote a product.

She uses Instagram analytics to track following, and gauge when good times are to post in order receive the most engagement.

“Marketing is always changing, and shifting. With present digital age, social media is most of what marketing entails,” Johnson said.

Beauty Industry mainly targets young women because they are the majority of the company’s customers, which is ideal for Instagram because according to OMNICORE 59 percent of its users are individuals in the age groups of 19-29.

Johnson said Beauty Industry’s main objective through the Instagram account is to make customers feel as if they are a part of their community. Beauty Industry sticks to its content and theme to best emphasize its products in the market.

“Working in this industry I have become aware of others’ marketing techniques, whether it be competitors or my own time on Instagram. I often find myself taking bits of other techniques, and forming it to ours,” Johnson said.

Beauty Industry has tried to focus on what the big marketing brands are doing, and then tailor it to the company’s own theme. The social media world is extremely competitive, and it’s crucial to notice the likes, comments and following ratio in order to receive the most positive feedback and response.

Beauty Industry is a company that is familiar with the positive impacts Instagram can make. There are very few restrictions, no wrong outlook and is more about finding a strategy that works well with your company.

“Customer service is a big thing specifically on Instagram, because a lot of people currently if they have a complaint or question, it is a lot easier to do this through messages. We try to really be interactive with our following, and our customers who reach out to us on these platforms,” Johnson said.

Instagram is Beauty Industry’s main tool to advertise because it has the highest success rate in selling their products.

Instagram has the ability to capture so many eyes, and create global awareness. STEM, a program that targets schools in the Salt Lake City district, does just this.

Molly Vroom helps run, and plan their social media campaigns in order to educate, and promote STEM research.

“There isn’t much competition in this field of work. It’s more about receiving attention that could possibly lead to funding,” Vroom said.

In order to achieve this STEM uses demonstration videos giving a more hands on approach to the followers. “Instagram gives the ability to educate, and give knowledge, and that is another one of our main goals,” Vroom said.

STEM uses several social media platforms, but targets millennials through Instagram because they are the individuals who use it the most.

The world is constantly changing and growing, adapting to new trends of life. In order to be impactful on Instagram it’s crucial to put out content that ignites your target audience.

The Hut Group, a global company centered around health, beauty and fitness, sometimes can spend up to a month planning a post. This organization opened a small office in Salt Lake City and will grow in the years come.

Jasmyne Reynolds, a manager for their acquisition companies’ social accounts, works daily with Instagram.

Her days are spent brainstorming concepts, working with photographers and videographers in their creative studio, and collaborating with the content director and Search Engine Optimization managers.

Every one of The Hut Group’s Instagram posts is extremely evaluated, and calculated before posting. “Working with Instagram helps us achieve our goal of reaching consumers and getting them to click over to our online platform and ultimately drive purchases,” Reynolds said.

As the social media account manager, Reynolds also spends hours working with other brands doing Q and A’s, giveaways and questionnaires in order to bring in more followers, and gain positive feedback.

Reynolds believes Instagram is a platform that has allowed businesses to create a personal connection with consumers.

“It’s important now more than ever to showcase products as a part of a consumer’s life,” Reynolds said.

Instagram marketing is used in an assortment of aspects, whether it is to bring awareness of a cause, or to advertise and sell products. It has drastically changed the game from billboards and TV commercials to a free platform being used by billions. Instagram is the new outlet for inspiration.

Come support esports at the University of Utah

Story and gallery by HOLLIS LEJA

Esports and video games in general are starting to become a bigger part of our culture. In a 2018 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 60 percent of Americans play video games daily, and in 2017 Americans spent over $29 billion on video games. The report also said “56% of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games.”

The University of Utah is one of the first universities in the nation to have a college esports team. This is something to be excited about because it is likely you may be a video game fan too. Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) is the name of the department leading this change and it has created the first varsity esports team in the U’s conference.

The university’s EAE program is one of the top programs in the world for video game development. It is rated no. 3 in the nation for its undergraduate and graduate programs and has published over 100 student-made video games. The U’s esports team was the first varsity esports team in the U.S. and currently offers this unique experience across four different game titles: “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” and “League of Legends.”

“League of Legends” is one of the most watched third-person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games in the world. Two teams of five players battle champions with various roles and abilities to be the first to destroy the other team’s nexus — a structure that is well-defended in the middle of each team’s base.

“League of Legends” was the first game to become part of this program back in 2017 and it boasts one of the largest followings in the esports industry. According to Riot Games, the creator of “League of Legends,” over 80 million people tuned in to watch the World Championship in 2017 and Riot expects that number to only continue growing. The 2018 World Championship concluded at the end of October and was hosted by South Korea. North America, represented by the U.S. team Cloud 9, took fourth. This is the first time an American team has placed in the top-4 since 2012 during the first Worlds Championship.

Riot sees the potential in esports just like the University of Utah does. Riot said it has over 500 university League of Legends Clubs on campuses across the U.S. For the 2019 college season Riot will be offering scholarships to both players and staff of the teams that compete. The 2019 collegiate season will start Jan. 15, just in time for spring semester.

In spring 2018, the University of Utah League of Legends Team was in the top spot for the collegiate tournaments played. AJ Dimmic, the esports director at the U, said the team was able to get over 300,000 views on Twitch last season and created over 350 hours of content. Dimmic is working hard to help the team and program continue to grow while creating a place where fans of gaming can come watch and support some of the university’s best players.

Kenny Green works as game studio relations for the University’s EAE program and volunteers his time as the head coach for the League of Legends Team on campus. He is also a student pursuing his master’s degree in game production. He’s been playing “League of Legends” since it came out on beta for PC in 2009.

Green said he tries to instill a “culture of being a family” with his players. The team works on building trust with one another and practices up to 20 hours a week, helping each other improve at the game as they prepare for the 2019 season.

The U currently has 11 students on scholarship for the League of Legends team, each pursuing different degrees varying from organic chemistry to pre-med. Green said his players are just like any other student-athlete on campus and are held to the same standards. Students in the program must be enrolled as full-time students, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and progress through 20 percent of their degree with each season.

Like most of the players and coaches in the program at the U, Green is very passionate about his role with the team and video games in general. He said some of the biggest challenges they face right now are space and budget. The program is on campus in building 72 located at 332 S. 1400 East, Suite 240, formerly used by the College of Law. Green said he is working on making a bigger area for teams to practice and so people can come watch the team play local games in the old mock courtroom in building 73 located at the same address.

The U and EAE are invested in esports on campus and in improving the program. The student-athletes and staff have worked hard to represent the best the U has to offer. Dimmic, Green and the team said the best way students can support the team and program is to come watch the games on campus and subscribe to the university esports Twitch channel. With student support the U can continue to be a leader in innovation and invest in programs like the ones in EAE.

Natural remedies to reduce stress and anxiety

Story and images by  CLAIRE HILLARD

Take a long run or sit still with a glass of tea and feel the weight of stress drift away.

In the United States, a majority of people with anxiety either neglect their troubles or use pharmaceuticals to dull their anxious feelings. People do not have to suffer through anxiety nor do they have to use medications with negative side effects.

For some, natural remedies may be the answer.

Dr. Uli Knorr is a naturopathic doctor who practices in Salt Lake City. He received an education from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Oregon.

Knorr said something that many people with anxiety may like to hear — that anxiety has little to do with an individual’s personality. Most commonly, stress is caused by some hormonal imbalance in the body.

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Knorr recommended physical activity as well as spending time outdoors to help reduce stress.

To some extent, humans need stress. However, too much stress can be detrimental. If the body is experiencing constant stress, it continues to act in a fight-or-flight state. “People who are very stressed are surviving, but they’re also perceiving life as life during war time,” Knorr said. This is not a healthy state to remain in long-term.

The method of stress relief that Knorr recommends above others is exercise. The many health benefits of exercise are well documented. Additionally, while exercise releases stress, it is also a type of stress itself. Knorr says that because exercise is a type of stress, it can help the body adapt to other types of stress in the future.

Mia Gallardo has found a passion in aerial — a type of acrobatics done while hanging from fabric. For her, this combination of physical demand and artistic expression is a major relief for stress.

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A personal health routine including various vitamins and ashwagandha.

Gallardo is an avid believer in natural medicines. Throughout her personal journey, she has used a number of natural techniques to reduce her stress. Many of her favorite stress-relieving techniques perfectly exemplify the practices that the two professionals recommend.

Knorr’s advice to anyone who struggles with stress is to not ignore their feelings of anxiousness, to participate in some form of exercise, consider taking a complete B vitamin and vitamin C, and consider herbs that may help. And if none of those things help, book an appointment with a health-care professional.

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Upon sitting for the interview, Josh Williams poured each of us a cup of warm tea.

Over a piping cup of local, Native American tea, Josh Williams shared some of his thoughts on stress and ways to address it. Williams is a clinical herbalist who received his education from East West — an herbal medicine program in Sarasota, Florida. He currently owns an herbal shop in Salt Lake City called Greenthread Herbs.

Williams believes that the key to reducing stress lies somewhere in self-care. Whatever that means to each individual, self-care is a good way to approach good health.

For Gallardo, self-care is a big part of her stress-relieving practices. To reduce stress she is known to meditate, bake, spend time with loved ones, or read “Harry Potter” books. Taking time just to do something that makes a person happy can be incredibly therapeutic.

For Williams, he sees taking herbal medicines as a form of self-care. For example, he shared his love for tea. “Tea taught me how to slow down,” he said. Simply being able to sit in peace can do wonders for a person’s mental state.

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Acts of self care can be as simple as taking time to sip a cup of coffee and read a good book.

While herbal medicine is less commonly used in the United States, the practices are used worldwide and throughout history. There are many herbs that for centuries have been used to help people manage stress.

Interestingly enough, Knorr, Williams, and Gallardo all mentioned “ashwagandha” in their interviews. Knorr suggested it, Gallardo takes it every night, and Williams said it is his “spirit plant.” Ashwagandha is a plant that is known for its many medicinal benefits — especially for soothing anxiety.

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A wall inside Greenthread Herbs displaying just a few of the available herbs.

Plants like ashwagandha will not take the pain away. Instead, they aid the body in overcoming the stress it is under. While many people want a quick fix to their anxiety, using natural products may be beneficial in the long run by helping someone improve their ability to handle stress.

Using herbs helps the body get better at responding to stress, as opposed to simply ignoring or medicating for it. When referring to common pharmaceuticals for anxiety, Williams said, “Instead of learning how to deal with these stresses and learn from them, we numb out.”

In the same way that lifting weights helps people gain muscle mass, individuals can train their body to overcome stress. By experiencing stress in a calm manner, the body begins to adjust and approach it differently. Over time, individuals can feel calmer in the face of stress and train the body to respond accordingly.

This means overcoming anxiety as opposed to relying on numbing medication.

Many people struggle with high levels of stress every day and use different methods of dealing — or not dealing — with it. Wanting to make a change and knowing your options are two steps in the right direction.

Whether it be exercising, drinking tea, or adding a touch of herbal medicine to your daily routine, there are ways to reduce stress. Finding what works best for you is part of the journey.

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A sign in Greenthread Herbs offering customers the opportunity to create custom tea blends.

Local Business Cross E Ranch Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Story and images by EMMA CHAVEZ

Cross E Ranch is a small local cattle ranch in the Salt Lake City neighborhood of Rose Park. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

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The Great Red Barn was built in 1880.

David Hinckley purchased the land from the Jeremy family, of Jeremy Ranch Park City, in 1968. David kept the business in the family, as his son, Dalon, and daughter, Heather, are the current co-owners.  

Cross E Ranch has a long history. Dalon, 29, began working with his dad when he was just 8 years old. He explained that originally the ranch was in the business of sheep, but his father quickly turned over to cattle. “We don’t do sheep anymore because, well, we’re just not that crazy. Sheep take a lot more work and are kind of a delicate animal,” Dalon says. Instead the ranch now raises black Angus beef. That’s just fine by Dalon, though. The cows are his favorite part of the job.  

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The ranch now raises black Angus beef.

“The cows keep us grounded in what we do each day,” Dalon says. The most interesting part of the ranch’s history, in fact, is its cattle brand. It is the cross E, and the namesake of the ranch. It is the oldest cattle brand still in use west of the Mississippi. It is a bit of a mystery. “We know it was used by a commander in Brigham Young’s Mormon Battalion, most likely Ethan Jeremy, but we aren’t sure,” Dalon says.

But the Jeremy family would not sell the ranch to David Hinckley unless he promised to keep using the brand, and David’s family have felt very honored and proud to be owners of such a historic brand ever since.

There a plenty of photo ops all over the ranch.

Running a cattle ranch is difficult work, but the hardest part isn’t the manual labor like you would think. Dalon likens being a rancher to that of a gambler, playing the highest of stakes. The nature of the business is luck. “There’s a lot of hope involved,” Dalon says. “You can gamble up to $300,000 on a crop of produce, and then you’re weather dependent.” Or in the case of a festival, “you’re hoping that in six weeks you can recuperate your investment and then make enough to make it worth it.” 

In the last 50 years, though, the stakes have increased tenfold. The entire business has changed. Dalon explained that he is now competing on a global agricultural market. His operation is now expected to be equally as efficient as a ranch that is working for a mass retailer, and shipping globally. It puts a strain on his resources.

Even more concerning has been the encroachment of development. Hundreds of acres of Dalon’s land have been bought out by the state government due to water accessibility, or shut down due to new EPA regulations. The changes began to greatly affect the business. “About seven years ago, we started losing hand over fist money, nearly $400,000,” Dalon says. “We had to completely reinvent the diversification of where our money was coming from.”

A display outside the Cross E Ranch pumpkin patch.

These changes forced the family to get creative with their revenue streams, which is how the Cross E Ranch festivals began. The ranch puts on three major festivals a year, the Summer Fun Free Days, the Baby Animal Festival and the Fall Festival. It also offers a multitude of private events, such as weddings, summer camps and corporate events.

Despite the stress the festivals cause him, Dalon says the creative aspect they bring to the job is the real fun part of the business. His goal is to constantly come up with new ways to make the farm better and more entertaining for the guests. Dalon just wants people to connect with agriculture, so he spends his time thinking of new ways to make the farm experience more accessible.

The Fall Festival, specifically, has been a major success since it started in 2014. Mother-daughter working duo Teresa and Kristal Hyde consider it their favorite festival. Kristal, who is the ranch’s event coordinator, described the Fall Festival as “fun, family, and good times.” Teresa, who helps run the ticket booth, nodded in agreement and added, “I’ve gone for the past three years before either of us worked here. They make their own doughnuts and it’s my favorite.”

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“There’s something for everyone.”

Of all the activities available, both Kristal and Teresa recommend the hay ride as a must-go-on when the festival next comes around, while Dalon insists everyone try the food. “There’s a doughnut shop, caramel apples, kettle corn, and a concessions shop where you can try a Cross E hamburger,” Dalon says. “There’s something for everyone.” This 2018 Fall Festival included a 14-acre corn maze, a 12-acre pumpkin patch, hay rides, slides, animals, and plenty of food. Check the Cross E Ranch website for more details on its variety of year-round festivals and activities.

Dalon is very excited with the direction the ranch is heading currently, but admits that it is expensive to change. He and his sister Heather haven’t taken a paycheck in two years. “Herding people and cows are really similar,” he said with a laugh, “but they do require different fencing. We haven’t made any money on the festivals yet because we keep reinvesting in them.” It’s quite a strenuous transition period.

An old tractor turned display on the edge of the ranch.

In the future, Dalon hopes the ranch will stay in the family. Heather has four daughters that she would like to see be involved. The siblings would both like to continue toward the direction of mixed use, with plenty of entertainment, but also maintaining the interactivity and ambience of the ranch.

Bags to Beds program makes a lasting impact upon the homeless community in Salt Lake City

Story, photos, and video by SPENCER K. GREGORY

A local student has created a service project that has impacted the homeless community in Salt Lake City.

Kaitlin Mclean, creator and director of the Bags to Beds program.

Kaitlin McLean, a fifth-year student at the University of Utah, has created a system in which the participant recycles plastic bags, creates plastic yarn, and produces mats that she said can then be used to “help our homeless neighbors.” This service project has been referred to as Bags to Beds.

“Bags to Beds is a community service project that’s looking to reduce waste for our community by breaking down plastic bags that can’t be recycled,” McLean said.

She organized this student-directed service project through the Bennion Center. The Bennion Center is a nonprofit organization on the U’s campus that serves the local community.

Since then, McLean is now the director of the program and has made a tremendous impact upon sustainability within the Salt Lake Valley.

She said that it averages about 40-50 hours of service per mat.

Students can get involved with however much time they want to spend.

One U student, Megan Peterson, said, “The project itself was really easy, and not hard to understand.”

Peterson is currently a third-year student who is studying communication with an emphasis in strategic communication. She specifically loves to help out the Bennion Center Scholars program.

Peterson mentions how she was first introduced to Bags to Beds at a Scholars social where they just ate pizza. In the meeting they casually discussed goal setting with students pursuing their work for their personal engagement within the community.

Afterward, the Scholars were unified in their efforts to cut plastic bags into objects that would later be used into “plarn.”

U students hard at work with “plarn.”

“Plarn” is the term that Bags to Beds has adopted to describe the unique process of creating the service phenomenon.

Bryan Luu offers insight as to the process and functionality of plarn making. He said, “Plarn is a form of plastic yarn. It’s what wove together these giant mats. All of it’s made from plastic bags that have just been cut into strips and tied together to resemble the yarn.”

Once the mats are made from the plarn, they are immediately distributed to a local resource center or to Project Homeless Connect.

Homeless Connect is a one-day event that helps provide services and outlets for those who are homeless. People can learn how to get involved in this project by visiting the website.

The program has a tremendous connection to the Project Homeless Connect happening in downtown Salt Lake City. “We’ll have all the mats we’ve finished throughout the year for those that are anticipating they’ll be outside this year,” McLean said.

McLean said they expect to help more than 600 individuals during 2018.
“It also gives us an opportunity to work with other people who work with this population, and also get to know the people we are serving,” she said.

This program has made a great impact upon a tremendous social issue.
Peterson said, “Even though homelessness itself is such a huge issue, they’re just trying to help a little bit by taking waste that can’t even be recycled, and then re-using them for something useful.”

Peterson added, “It also helped me focus in on an issue that I’m not thinking about all the time.”

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Bryan Luu shares his experience with Bags to Beds.

Luu, a fifth-year student at the U studying civil engineering and urban ecology, said, “My time with Bags to Beds really has shaped a lot of my community involvement because I feel as if I can continue making a difference. Just having that knowledge, is just really important. Then I can be able to still give back to my community.”

Students or other patrons can visit Bags to Beds to get actively involved. Visitors can then fill out a volunteer interest form.

Bags to Beds has trained organizations and individuals to work independently on the service project at the Bennion Center or even at home.

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Bags to Beds was founded by University of Utah student Kaitlin McLean.

So if you’re a community member, student, or local citizen in the community there are many ways for you to get engaged in this great organization. According to McLean, Bags to Beds can even personally deliver plarn right at your door.

Peterson said it’s an “easy way to get involved.”

Paige Remington, another student at the U, said, “Although I am not directly helping people who are experiencing homelessness, I am using my hands and my time to create something that will hopefully alleviate a small amount of suffering.”

Debbie Hair, the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center.

Debbie Hair is the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center. She has helped the founder of Bags to Beds from the beginning. She said, “This project went off miraculously with a lot of attention.”

Hair added, “There’s a couple of different reaches this program has, one is environment. We’re not just reaching out to the homeless to give them comfort, but we’re also repurposing those bags.”

According to Bags to Beds, the program has collected over 12,000 plastic bags for active sustainable use in the community.

Bags to Beds has a plan to prepare a model that is sustainable moving forward. McLean said, “The project will continue to flourish no matter how many students there are.”

Students through the Bennion Center and community members in the Salt Lake Valley have been the main community engagement resource, providing service hours for the program. However, the organization plans to spread to other cities.

Since the early years of the program, it has now officially become an incorporated business outside of the Bennion Center.

McLean said, “Bags to Beds is now in the process of becoming a tax-deductible nonprofit organization.” Bags to Beds has made a tremendous impact upon the homeless society in the Salt Lake Valley and will continue to change countless future lives.

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Tinker’s Cat Café, a coffee bar with a twist

Story and gallery by JOLIE BELL

Coffee. Conversation. Cats. What do they have in common? They are integral to a new local small business.

Tinker’s Cat Café is the first of its kind in Salt Lake City. A novelty in the United States, cat cafés are popular in other parts of the world, particularly Asia. In fact, the very first cat café opened in Taipei, Taiwan, and soon turned into a sensation in Japan. Cat cafés are a twist on a traditional coffee shop. In addition to coffee, tea and goodies, people also pay to socialize with felines.

Lisa Boone is the owner of Tinker’s Cat Café, located at 302 E. 900 South. Boone saw her first cat café while watching late night television. The idea intrigued her and soon she developed plans to open an establishment of her own. She decided to name her café after her childhood pet, Tinker, who lived to be 22.

“It was all from Tinker, he shaped how I thought about cats,” Boone said. Along with petting cute kitties, the café serves a variety of specialty drinks including coffee, hot chocolate, Italian soda, and tea. It also sells pastries from other local businesses.

The cats themselves come from Salt Lake County Animal Services and are spayed/neutered and vaccinated. One aspect that is unique about Tinker’s is many of the cats may be adopted. In fact, more than 80 adoptions have occurred since it first opened the doors in 2017.

The adoption process is simple. If someone decides to adopt, an employee meets with them and discusses their history with cats. If it is the person’s first time ever owning a cat or if they have other animals in their home, the employees explain what the future pet owner needs and how to care for the cat. There is a $40 adoption fee per cat.

Adoption isn’t for everyone. Boone understands not everyone has the funds or a suitable home for pets. The café fills the need for those who love animals and she feels the café is a positive experience for both the people and felines.

“It’s a win-win,” Boone said. “Especially for the timid cats because they can socialize and get used to an environment.” The cat room, adjacent to the café, is open and without cages. This allows patrons to show them affection while they are living at Tinker’s, which can help the cats come out of their shell.

Not every cat is up for adoption. For some, Tinker’s becomes home. One cat has been at Tinker’s since it opened. He stays to help the new cats acclimate to the surroundings by sitting with the newly acquired timid cats.

“We are not sure what cat magic he has,” Boone said with a laugh.

Throughout the year, Tinker’s acquired several regular customers. Sarah Murtagh is one. Murtagh said she loves the calm environment and has made friends with other kindred spirits.

“When I was going through a rough time in my life, the café was where I found therapy,” Murtagh said. She bought an unlimited pass for the cat room to visit her furry friends as often as she could. Eventually her living situation changed and allowed her to own a pet. Once Obsidian (Obi for short) crawled into her lap at the café, she knew they were a perfect match.

Not everyone is looking to adopt. Some are interested in something new and fun to do. Ally Jelitto, a University of Utah student, visited the shop on a whim after noticing the café driving through town.

“I felt fancy drinking a latte while petting a cat in my lap,” she said in a phone interview. “I’d go back more, but if I do I might go home with five cats,” she said, chuckling.

Recently Boone began organizing special events at Tinker’s such as Cat & Paint, Yoga, and Crochet with Cats. Boone has more event ideas on the horizon, such as trivia or game nights.

The paint and crochet classes offer a coffee, hot chocolate or tea and an hour in the cat room with an instructor. The yoga class is an hour and allows an extra half hour to play with the felines. The curious cats will sit on the yoga mats, play with people’s hair and bat around the balls of yarn.

Reservation spots fill up quickly to spend time with the cats. Or, customers may walk in (if there’s room). The cost is $8 an hour and $4 a half hour in the cat room. Tinker’s offers an unlimited monthly pass for $50 or an unlimited annual pass for $600. The café also provides a children’s hour for kids 8 and under from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. It is $6 each for children and parents.

The café hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday- Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Tinker’s is closed on Mondays. The cat room opens at 11 a.m. and closes the same time as the café does.

Boone is looking forward to another year of business and to continuing to foster a community location where people can connect. Success has its price, however. As the felines leave for their forever homes, it can be difficult for Boone and her employees who become attached to them.

“It’s bittersweet,” Boone said. “However, I’m happy they are going to good homes.”

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Healthcare: what’s in the price when you’re seen by a provider?

Story and images by BRADEN ROLLINS

Whether you go to the doctor to ensure your health shouldn’t be a decision you have to make. Unfortunately, rising healthcare costs are forcing individuals to choose between other expenses and healthcare.

Many face the daunting prospect of healthcare cost. But what contributes to the cost and why are some at a disadvantage as compared to others?

Stories of healthcare costs frequent the news and media attribute one of the causes of high costs to doctors offices themselves.

Trying to decipher why healthcare costs are so high can be difficult. However, speaking with employees at a local doctor’s office and their experience with rising cost may shed light on the subject for some.

Jordan Meadows, a small family practice located in West Jordan, provides services such as physicals, blood draws, weight checks, vaccinations and other basic medical services.

Debra Bowen, the general manager of the clinic, discussed factors that contribute to the price of healthcare in the office such as payroll, collections, supplies, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Keeping quality employees is difficult in today’s economy due to the unemployment rate being so low. And with major corporations offering higher pay for similar jobs, Bowen said it is difficult for smaller clinics to compete for labor.

Bowen said more than half of the expenses to the clinic is for payroll and if they were to significantly raise wages the patient prices would increase significantly as a result. So keeping the balance between quality employees and wages is a constant problem.

Another problem faced by the clinic is outstanding balances on patients’ accounts, which are usually sent to collections. Some patients receive treatment but delay paying for it at the time of service for various reasons. Many of these unpaid accounts can come from patients who have been treated and have since felt better and no longer feel payment is necessary, Bowen said.

Medical supplies are a major cost to the clinic. Bowen said most of the cost comes from sterile equipment for examination, followed by supplies and tests to diagnose different ailments. The most expensive of the supplies are vaccinations. The use of supplies is carefully monitored so only things that are needed are ordered to reduce waste and overstock of unneeded supplies.

While rising costs are affecting most Americans, Bowen acknowledged low-income individuals and families without insurance are particularly impacted. Jordan Meadows offers cash patients a reduced price for their care while barely breaking even on the cost to the clinic.

These individuals are faced with the decision to pay a high insurance deductible or pay out of pocket. Some coverage is minimal due to the plan selected by the patient.

Bowen said these policies, known as catastrophic insurance, have high deductibles such as $5,000, which most patients would not meet in their plan year, so they choose to pay out of pocket. 

This makes treating these patients difficult, especially those who have chronic care needs such as diabetes. Some patients will come in for their initial visit, but don’t return for follow-up appointments due to the price, which can sometimes cost over $100.

Though prices can still be considered high for cash-only patients, Bowen said they are negligibly higher than the prices set by government Medicare programs. Legally the clinic cannot charge lower prices than Medicare without it being considered fraud.

John Neilsen, a family nurse practitioner, said he and the clinic assist patients by reducing prices whenever possible for cash patients, and suggesting alternatives treatments and helping them find discounts on medications.

Neilsen said it is difficult at times when the patient cannot afford their care, but it’s even more difficult when the patient has the ability to pay but chooses not to afford their healthcare due to extravagances in their lives.

A main focus of the clinic is putting people first and doing what it can to help individuals struggling to pay for services by working with each one on a individual basis.

Mariana Alvarado, the receptionist who was assisting patients, said she has dealt with many patients who can’t afford the healthcare.

Many of the patients who have no insurance or poor insurance are notified before they are seen by the provider of the price of the visit. She says it’s difficult when patients are agitated by prices. But she said she does her best to calm them and explain why services are priced as they are.

Alvarado agreed with one of her co-workers. “Being a smaller clinic we develop relationships with our patients,” she said, “and do what we can to help each patient with staying healthy while helping them afford treatment.”

Jordan Meadows provides healthcare at prices that are manageable for the majority of its patients who have good insurance. But the clinic is willing to work with those who are in positions of financial stress or have poor insurance.

While basic healthcare could be considered relatively expensive as compared to other necessities, the breakdown of expenses to your doctor’s office, especially those of smaller practices, add up to and contribute to the final price of the service provided.

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A local business woman’s ability to lead

Story and Gallery by KOWHAI ANDERSON

Professional ambition is expected of males, while only optional for females. For one Utah businesswoman, she has chosen to use her professional success to make an impact on her employees, community, friends and family.

Stacy Kelly is the owner of Construction Material Recycling, a Utah based company founded in 2004. Her company specializes in construction and excavation. Its services include rotomilling, heavy hauling and crushing.

At Canyons Resort, Construction Material Recycling is building two new ski runs, bridge embankments and roads for new houses. They handle construction on Interstate 80 through Parley’s Canyon. They recently finished road work at Bear Lake, and construction in American Fork.

Kelly is in charge of 25 employees, all male. She said every worker is OK with working for her. In fact, some are honored. Kelly said, “Each employee looks out for me and makes sure I am taken care of. This is due to the type of employer I am. I believe you need to be kind.”

“I think this is something women understand better than men,” Kelly stated. “There needs to be a little bit of compassion.”

Kelly shows this in the way she treats her employees. For example, she gives each of her employees heartfelt birthday cards, filled with loving words and numerous gift certificates. She believes if compassion exists, any leader can have a more dynamic team.

“It’s the little things you think about doing for someone, whether that be work, school, family, friends, whatever,” Kelly said, “it’s those little things that put the icing on the cake to seal the relationship.”

Originally, Kelly didn’t see herself building a career in the construction industry. However, those closest to her felt she would thrive. So, she obtained her contractor’s license, which can only be rewarded after passing a difficult exam.

“I cried all morning the day of the test,” Kelly stated. “I didn’t want to do this … I went to the testing center, and saw a lot of females there as well. I assumed they were all there for the same exam, feeling relief. Turns out, the majority of the women were going in for a cosmetology exam.”

Kelly passed the test with an 81 percent. For Kelly, this was the beginning of her journey in the industry of construction. She realized it would not be an easy road.

“It’s been an adventure,” Kelly said. “I enjoy doing what I’m doing, but it takes a lot of strength. People don’t believe you are doing it because you are a lady, and my main competition was the worst. Still can be today. He would say to me, when we would see each other at conferences or in the business field, ‘Um, why aren’t you doing scrapbooking like my wife? That’s where you should be!’”

While building the company, it was difficult for Kelly to balance being a business owner and a mother. She still finds it difficult, and says it has been her biggest challenge.

Kelly is a mother to nine children; four with her current husband and five adopted.  

“In the beginning, it was easier,” Kelly said on being a mother. “At the time I had my ex-husband who was part of it. So, we are working together. Now my current husband is not part of the business. He works out of town, which has made balancing everything for me a lot harder.”

For Kelly, her kids have always been part of the business. She includes them in everything she does and has given them the opportunity to work for her once they reach the legal age of 18.

In 2008, Kelly moved to Coalville, Utah. Her company was based in Salt Lake, but moved north to the small town in 2014. It’s been easier for Kelly to have the business close to home. It allows her to be near family. Her kids are able to visit the office, which to them, feels like a second home.

The best part of being a business owner is the freedom to support her children in their activities.

She also loves the ability she has to serve those around her due to self-reliance. Kelly said she enjoys the process of creating, helping and supporting her community.

In Coalville, there is a 4-H program, which helps children develop life skills. Kelly has had the opportunity to fund this. If the children are putting forth effort to work hard, she will support them.

Kelly credits her success to a few key individuals. Ed Hansen, a man who is like a father to her, has helped her find direction. Cody Thorn, her partner in the business, has been there every step of the way. Dave Nicholson, a friend from her Entrepreneur Organization forum (a global business network which engages leading entrepreneurs to learn new skills), has helped her realize she can move forward even when things get difficult. He has been a big influence on Kelly.

“Stacy is incredibly hardworking. She loves her family and the people she works with,” Nicholson said.

Kelly stated, “Dave is the one who saw the light in me and said ‘you can do this.’”

Philip Anderson, a member of her EO forum, describes Stacy as “a woman with a heart of gold. She will do anything for anyone.”

The biggest lesson Kelly has learned in business is to never take anyone for granted.

“It doesn’t matter who they are in your company, your family, or your friendship circle, everybody has a purpose,” Kelly said. “We are all on a compass. We can go a million different ways, but as long as we stay focused and centered, then anything is possible.”

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A rotomill machine chewing up an old road, thus allowing the material to be recycled for new pavement. Photo courtesy of Stacy Kelly.

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A visual of the moral compass Kelly and her employees follow. Photo by Kowhai Anderson.

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A rotomill machine paving a road in Provo, Utah. Photo courtesy of Stacy Kelly, owner of Construction Material Recycling.

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An excavation machine being used to create a pathway to a home in Park City, Utah. Photo courtesy of Stacy Kelly.

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This chart shows the percentage of privately held firms by females and males. Infographic created by Kowhai Anderson, using data from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

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A 2018 statistic from pewresearch.org showing the percentage of labor force among the U.S. population. Infographic created by Kowhai Anderson.

 

 

Goalkeeping done right, from TIP Goalkeeping

Story and gallery by JOSH LUDLOW

The first Saturday of October at 8 a.m. was cold. According to the car’s outdoor temperature gauge it was in the high 40s. Freedom Hills Park in Centerville, Utah, sits just under the east mountain side. With rain falling the night before, the grass was spongy and wet. Feet were soaked within a few steps on the soggy surface. At this time, and place, goalkeepers from across the Salt Lake Valley gathered to hone their skills.

Brian Simmons, the head of TIP (technique, insight, power) Goalkeeping, is the man running the training program. As the young high school goalkeepers arrive, subtle moans are heard about the hour of day, temperatures, and lack of sleep. Simmons quickly gets them into action to start the morning training session with a few warm-up routines.

Soon enough the goalkeepers are diving on the ground, in the air, and even forward attacking the ball. Simmons directs the efforts of these young players in a positive direction. He provides needed correction but also positive reinforcement when a player correctly executes a save.

The session runs about an hour with much of the allotted time at an intensive work rate. At the end, footprints and cut marks are visible from where the goalkeepers worked as the grass is torn to shreds. Final comments are made by Simmons and then everyone departs till next week’s session.

Simmons discussed TIP and what the inspiration was behind the idea by saying that, “There was a lot of demand for goalkeeper training where I am based in Davis County, Utah. I was asked over and over about what training I could offer, so after holding training sessions sporadically I decided to formalize TIP so that I could be a consistent resource for the goalkeeping community as well as the average coach.”

TIP Goalkeeping provides young goalkeepers the opportunity to train at a higher level than a typical club team practice would provide. The high intensity, demand for excellence, and positive feedback make these trainings invaluable for the goalkeepers.

“TIP was officially founded in 2017, though TIP trainers have been active for about a decade,” Simmons said.

Another TIP trainer, Cole Palmer, also said, “I am not sure of the exact time I started with TIP but I believe the first camp that Brian and I did was in the summer of 2017.”

As a relatively new company in a heavily concentrated soccer playing community, TIP found its niche. The opportunity to work with parents and athletes away from the club teams has given the young goalkeepers formalized training. Whereas at the club levels, goalkeepers are treated as just another field player.

Craig Waldron, a parent of one of the athletes, described the training TIP provides. “I think TIP is different from other trainings because of how personal they make it for each keeper. They also have a very good trainer to athlete ratio so there is a lot of personal help with each of the athletes. And trainers that truly want to make better goalkeepers.”

The success of TIP, when broken down, is about the values it represents. Simmons said, “Our aim is to help keepers learn and develop the skills necessary to become great goalkeepers and people…. So many goalkeeping principles can be applied to life, and at the end of the day, we care very much that our athletes develop as people in all facets of life.” TIP goes further than teaching athletes how to properly be a goalkeeper. It instills values that these young players will one day look back on and realize they were already developing by attending these training sessions.

Ideally, the training sessions are there to assist in bringing a sense of accomplishment and improvement. Specific instruction is delivered from Simmons and Palmer on how to execute a desired movement, perform the technique correctly, and how to improve what the athlete already knows.

Palmer said, “I think the biggest difference that I have seen is getting kids genuinely excited about training. I have never seen kids show up to training and say they also have a game or even two after but at TIP I see that all the time. It seems like they show up excited and ready to go.”

TIP is also giving back to the community. Once a year, TIP hosts a training session for free to anyone. All that is asked from those who attend is a donation, which will be given to someone or a place in need. This past summer of 2018 TIP was able to raise “$330 to support Eumer, a boy living in Ethiopia,” Simmons said. The next year TIP is hoping to raise even more money to benefit someone or something.

TIP brings goalkeeping to a completely different level. With multiple trainers, athletes, and philosophies involved, these young players are receiving the skills necessary to enhance their playing abilities and life. Simmons said it best: “I want TIP to be THE authority on goalkeeping in the state of Utah.”

 

Young entrepreneur brings delicious activity to downtown Logan

Story and images by MEGAN GILSON

After days of searching for a new job, unable to meet the required qualifications, a frustrated college student decided he would create his own.

The 22-year-old Utah State University student, Austin Jensen, is the founder and owner of Logan Food Tour, a culinary walking tour in the heart of downtown Logan.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a food tour, Jensen described it as “the best way to experience the city and its local restaurants. We dive into the food scene, visiting restaurants and trying their best menu items. As we walk around, we share the history of the downtown area, creating a unique, and delicious experience.”

Logan Food Tour features four of Logan’s best local restaurants — Pollo Azteca, Stacked Pancakes, The Factory Pizzeria, and The Crepery. Ranging from authentic Mexican cuisine to traditional Sicilian-style pizza, each restaurant serves quality, made-from-scratch dishes.

Many ask Jensen if his idea was inspired by his passion. He always replies, “I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about food, or about historical tours, but I am passionate about fulfilling the needs of the people around me. In the end, I think that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.”

In the spring of 2018, Jensen noticed a vast amount of students with a shortage of fun things to do on the weekends. “Logan is a small town, and frankly, there is a lack of local events and cool activities,” he said. “I wanted to build something that would solve the age old question ‘what should we do tonight?’”

A few months later, Jensen was caught up in the frustration of trying to find a job that would give him some relevant job experience for his future career. “I found that every job that sounded remotely interesting and helpful for my future required experience and a degree. So finally, I realized that if no one was willing to give me the experience I need, then I’m just going to gain it myself.”  A few weeks later, Logan Food Tour was born.

The road to building any business isn’t easy, and Logan Food Tour was no exception. Jensen put in countless hours building the website, studying up on historical facts, and finding great restaurants to work with.

After all the logistics were in place, Jensen spent weeks advertising the tours. He handed out fliers and cards on campus and started advertising on social media. After a few weeks, he finally saw his hard work pay off when he booked his first tour.

“On the first tour, I was a ball of nerves,” Jensen recalled. “I was worried about guiding the tour, remembering all of the facts and stories, making sure the participants got enough food and keeping people entertained. It turned out I was nervous for no reason. I felt totally in my element, telling stories and cracking cheesy jokes, and the restaurants absolutely delivered with huge samples of delicious food.”

Jensen felt great after his first tour and couldn’t wait for the next ones. He loved helping his guests create new memories, while introducing them to great, local food.

“One of the most rewarding parts is helping local business gain more traction, and attract new customers,” Jensen said. “We have deals with each of the restaurants, they prepare a sample plate of food for our participants, and through our own advertising efforts, we promote their restaurant. It’s mutually beneficial and allows each of us to succeed.”

Alicia Lopez, owner of Pollo Azteca, said, “When the food tour group comes in, people on the street notice my restaurant. They look in my windows and wonder what is going on and why there are so many people. This encourages them to come in and try the food.”

It is seeing the positive impact that Logan Food Tour has on restaurants like Pollo Azteca, the first stop on the food tour, that motivates Jensen to continue working hard and building his business.

Food tour participant Kyle Horton said, “It’s like the ultimate date night! It takes dinner and a movie to a whole new level. We learned cool stories and facts about the place we live, tried new delicious restaurants we had never been to, and left absolutely stuffed.”

When asked about his long-term plans for Logan Food Tour, Jensen said, “I don’t expect to stay in Logan running the tours for the rest of my life, though it would be the funnest career ever. Ideally, in a few years, I will pass down the business to another USU student. At the end of the day, I want to be able to provide someone with valuable experience and give them the chance that no one gave me.”

Jensen has learned more about business in the past three months than he has learned his entire college career. Jensen said the experience has been “eye-opening and invaluable.”

He offers this advice to other students: “Don’t wait until things seem easy, because I don’t think they ever will be. Gaining the experience you need is about doing challenging things now.”

NO BLACK OUTLINE LOGAN

Photo courtesy of Austin Jensen

 

City hopes Murray Theater, historic hostess to the stars, can return to glory

Story and photos by VICTORIA TINGEY 

She’s hosted Judy Garland and Adele. Wrestlers and ballerinas. But after being down on her luck and threadbare, the time has come for the storied Murray Theater to be great again. The plans to restore the historic building have the city reaching for the future.

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Murray City Theater-Neon Sign

Murray City purchased the 79-year-old structure with the purpose of rehabilitating it into a cultural arts facility, and bringing the building — which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 — back to life.

Built during the Great Depression, the theater, which is located on 4961 South State St., opened in October 1938 and soon hosted live bands and film productions. The first film was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” with Tyrone Power and Ethel Merman. Show prices were 20 cents for matinees. 

“The facility captures the vision of a broad array of cultural facilities which are distributed throughout Utah,” Kim Sorensen, the Murray City Parks and Recreations director, wrote in an email.

The building’s unique design catches people’s eyes as they enter the city. This structure stands apart because of its age, architecture and charm.  

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View inside of Murray Theater from the balcony

“The façade is an excellent example of Art Moderne complete with rounded corners, horizontal windows and a vertical marquee that serves as a landmark along heavily traveled state street,” Sorensen said.

When asked how this structure will enhance the community, Sorensen addressed that because this facility would provide year-round indoor space, and programming options will expand significantly. It will provide a venue for both small professional and amateur ensembles made up of members from local orchestras and band organizations.

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Layout of Murray Theater hung up in the Foyer

As the city looks at the plans to refurbish this structure, they are trying to look what will help create a long lasting concept that will draw people as it once did. 

Jeff Martin, city facilities manager, said, “The City has asked for an assessment about the theater that includes: asking the community how to best utilize the space and what costs and upgrades will be needed to meet the community’s needs.”

The building was bought by the City in 2016. Their plans were to be able to repurpose this building so that they could positively enhance the downtown area of Murray.

“It’s not everywhere that a historic theater is owned and operated by a city, and one where they are actively looking to renovate and provide a fresh venue to their citizens,” Martin stated.

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Detailed architecture in the front entrance of the Theater

The architecture helps to emphasize the old rustic feel when walking into the building. This building has played a big role in the history of Murray and they believe that it can still add value to maintaining cultural entertainment  and historic identities within the community.

Community members and visitors see the special features that add character to the city.  

“When working, the neon sign on the front of the building puts out bright vibrant colors that light up the surrounding block. It really attracts your attention as you’re passing by,” Martin said.

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Old piano located on Murray Theaters center stage

There are other unique features about the building that Martin indicated including that there is an air handler that provides cooling and heating for the main theater room. The original fan is up to 6 feet in diameter and approximately 6 feet long. They included that the original motor still drives the belts that turn a large pulley to operate the fan that still works to this day.

They believe companies that create neon signage is a dying industry. It is harder to find people who can make repairs to the glass work involved and components to keep it operating. The color and light output that comes from these types of signs is really unparalleled. The city officials believe that these building gives a sense of how far the City has come.

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View of the Theater from the stage

“As I have worked with these buildings, some visitors came to watch movies at the theater when they were kids. While others attended events and concerts. Those memories tie into future generations and connections to build upon. It adds another aspect of how Murray is unique to its surrounding entities,” Martin said.

The reinvestment in the building is going to add to improvement of properties that run through State Street, an important corridor for the Wasatch front because of it’s big transportation roadway. Any enhancements that will be made will better the community at large. There have even been long term plans by state representatives to try to create more reinvestment in properties on state street because of it.

“This project will help revitalize our downtown area which is in dire need. It will be a catalyst to get things going, drum up the old history of Murray!” said Susan Nixon, the Associate Planner of Murray.

The city administrators are confident that the enhancement of the Murray theater will be an important catalyst for redevelopment of the downtown of Murray. It will add value to the social and cultural elements of the community. This project will bring the past into the future and make the area of Murray vibrant again.

 

Young Entrepreneur Will Stop at Nothing to Quench his Thirst for Success

Story by ISABELLA GENTILE

Ethan Cisneros should have been out of breath.

Like all 20 year olds faced with another day of multitasking, the University of Utah student was rushing through the motions of class and work. But unlike most on a recent Wednesday afternoon, Cisneros found himself in between classes hustling to Fox 13 News Station’s studio. The baby-faced junior was there to film a segment for the station’s afternoon feature, The Place, which showcases small local businesses.

Cisneros had a new haircut and was dressed to impress with a striped polo. It was clear this young entrepreneur meant business. Stepping out of his truck packed with catering menus, bins of Torani syrups, soda and fliers, he was fully equipped to pitch the impact his soda shop, Thirst, is making on Salt Lake City.

He finds his comfort in operating a shop that runs on the concept of making a “happy impact.”

Cisneros is a contributor in a wave that seems to be spreading throughout the Salt Lake City area. Young entrepreneurs, both enrolled in school and not, are leveraging social media and a vision to launch businesses. And making money doing it.

The traditional education system is designed to bolster the workforce, but Generation Z, which has an age range from six to 23, has rearranged the progress from school to work. In Salt Lake City, there seems to be a ripple of eagerness within this age group – a crescendo of young individuals moving toward a less traditional path.

From lemonade stands to soda shop

Cisneros began his entrepreneurial climb at 7, when he would ride his bike to the store, purchase lemonade, and sell it at a stand in his neighborhood. He recalls standing on the street and dancing around with a sign to attract customers.

He learned to ride his bike at 2, because, “When you’re a businessman, you need to be able to get around,” he said. At 10, he and his neighborhood friend wanted to make some money, so they started a lawn mowing business. “Zack and Ethan’s Lawn Mowing” grew over the span of six years, but by then, Cisneros was ready to move on.

During the 2014 Christmas season, he thought he’d try his luck hanging Christmas lights —  and he ended up with another business. But as the snow melted and summer came around, he noticed a hype around shaved ice shacks. His curiosity sparked, and Cisneros scoped out prospects – and potential competition. He sat at a local shaved ice shack and observed the operation, watching the lines and counting customers.

Shortly after, “Olympus Ice” was born. Lively music drew in high school students to the shack throughout the summer. They gathered under string lights at picnic tables, playing board games and “Twister” as they enjoyed their frozen delicacies. Come winter, Cisneros started his light-hanging business back up. He continued this seasonal cycle throughout his high school career. Little did he know, however, bigger opportunities were headed his way.

When Cisneros turned 18, his business partner reached back out to him. She said she had noticed the long lines at soda shops such as Swig and Sodalicious.

“Girls were driving all the way out to Provo for this stuff,” he said.

His ambition kicked in, and he began visiting all of the soda shops he could find in Utah, and soon learned there wasn’t one in Salt Lake. That’s when the idea for “Thirst” was born.

Thirst is located at 38 East 1300 South, Salt Lake City.

Cisneros developed plans, secured a location and assured his business partner it was a good investment.

“If you invest in this, I won’t let you down,” he told her. “Either this is going to succeed or I’m going to die.”

Cisneros had a clear idea of what he was getting into.

“I told myself, ‘This is not a lemonade stand anymore, this is a big deal,” he recalled.

Making a ‘happy impact’

A few blocks east of the Salt Lake Bees Stadium, Thirst’s bright orange roof cannot be missed. A long line of idling cars waits to reach the drive-through window, where customers order drinks such as the “Dr. McCreamy” and “Frat Star,” or sweet treats such as their signature “Scotcharoo.”

Inside the shop, Cisneros mixes drinks and serves smiles from the 8:30 a.m. open to 9:30 p.m. close, leaving only to make it to class on time. Thirst has been in business for nearly three years, and Cisneros spares no effort to keep its three locations running. Work is all he knows, and he expressed that it’s what makes him comfortable.

“I want to build massive success and prosperity, and I like to match my work ethic to my words,” he explained.

Cisneros mixes Thirst’s signature drinks for his customers. He enjoys being involved in the day to day operations of his shop.

It was this eagerness and determination that brought Cisneros to the lobby of Fox 13 News, anxiously prepping his equipment for showcase.

 

“I wonder if Big Buddha remembers me,” Cisneros said, in reference to Thirst’s Fox feature with Big Buddha from last year. “He likes my photos sometimes.”

Cisneros takes a story for Thirst's Instagram account. He actively keeps his followers engaged in what he's doing.

Cisneros takes a story for Thirst’s Instagram account. He actively keeps his followers engaged in what he’s doing.

He pulled out his phone and began taking a video for Thirst’s Instagram story. These Instagram updates are constant throughout Cisneros’ day to day – he prides himself on keeping his followers engaged and informed of what he is doing. An advocate of social media marketing, Cisneros is convinced that for his target demographic, nothing else works. He interacts regularly with his 3,000-plus followers, delivering to them a bona fide customer experience inside – and outside – his shop.

One evening, Cisneros recognized the driver of a car involved in a nearby accident as one of his loyal customers, and went out of his way to hand deliver her favorite drink to her at the scene of the accident. It’s this extra effort that helps build Thirst’s reputation for stellar customer service.

As each car pulls up to the drive-thru window, Cisneros greets it with a smile. He models his friendly interactions with his customers after his company’s mission statement: “Make a happy impact, one experience at a time.” With Cisneros’ level of enthusiasm and animation, it’s no wonder customers are driving away with a grin on their face. This contentment permeates the kitchen as well.

One of Cisneros’ employees, Conner Nelson, shared why he enjoys working at Thirst.

“It’s a pretty fun work environment, everyone just kind of laughs and has a good time,” he said, adding that he admires Cisneros’ work ethic. “I don’t really know how he does it to be honest.”

But Cisneros’ busy schedule doesn’t stop him from maintaining a healthy and happy workplace. Even as the boss, he remains friends with his employees, promoting teamwork through staff parties, movie nights and retreats. He even plans to take his team on a weekend trip to St. George.

Learning the ‘sexy skills’

Cisneros is thriving in the era for entrepreneurs when essentially anyone can buy something and resell it online. Through the indisputable power and reach of social media, as well as the drive and ardor that’s surging among the younger generations, the possibilities are endless. Young high school graduates no longer need to follow the long-established path laid out by their predecessors.

Cisneros has plenty of advice to give when it comes to entrepreneurship, and he emphasizes the importance of being willing to put in the work.

“It comes down to sacrificing the things that you may want in the moment, like a party or anything, for what you want in the long term,” he said. “I know what I want in the long term, which is massive.”

In Cisneros’ case, this desire for success has driven him from the moment he set up his first lemonade stand. He is working to develop a set of “sexy skills,” as he calls them.

“I’m getting my hands dirty doing it. I’m the one mopping the floors,” he said. “I’m gonna learn the sexy skills by not doing the sexy things, and then I’m gonna transfer those skills to a sexy business.”

Cisneros knows that he doesn’t want to run a soda shop forever, but he’s not ready to move on until Thirst is an undeniable success. However, he believes he will never be fully satisfied and hopes that Thirst will continue to prosper beyond him. When asked what sets him apart from the rest, his answer was simple:

“I’ll outwork everyone.”