“How have you never been to Blue Plate?” When I first moved to Salt Lake City as a freshman at Westminster College, Blue Plate Diner was the restaurant that my peers shamed me the most for having never tried. Now, that Blue Plate’s owners have announced they’re shutting down, after two decades in business, I’m not sure if anything can replace it as the east side’s how-have-you-not-eaten-here place.
Blue Plate Diner’s popularity with college students—and really anyone seeking a hearty breakfast in Salt Lake City—makes sense, even if it’s not apparent from the jukebox playing Johnny Cash, retro vibes and tiled license plates and other ephemera on the walls. It was easy enough to get to by bike or bus, and bottomless hot coffee and a mountain of home fries were the only way to start the weekend after a long night of “studying.” Like many 18-year-olds, I was experimenting with going vegetarian or vegan (depending on the day) and Blue Plate never skimped on their veggie-friendly menu. And, it came without a side of preening pretentiousness when I eventually gave up the pretense and ordered the Chile Verde or Corned Beef Hash.
There are a lot of little things that went into making a place like Blue Plate Diner special. “We must have done something right, cause you guys kept coming back,” read the announcement of Blue Plate Diner’s impending closure on Instagram, which now includes hundreds of comments from distraught patrons.
Blue Plate Diner has been a perpetual entry on Salt Lake Magazine’s Dining Guide, along with its “comfort food classics like pancakes, patty melts and chicken-fried steak in sausage gravy and burgers.” You’ve probably lost count of how many times the diner has been honored as the “best breakfast” in the city. It’s an institution, at the risk of being cliche, and many of us grew up there—like the owners’ (now adult) kid who also took to Instagram, saying, “We all worked there. We all had one hell of a time there. The Blue Plate family will be one forever. You made Salt Lake whole and will be a forever staple in everyone’s memories.”
While the announcement wasn’t clear whether the pandemic contributed to the decision to close Blue Plate Diner, it’s no secret that restaurants are suffering right now. Salt Lake Magazine’s recent Blue Plate Awards raised a glass to an incomplete and sadly still growing list of COVID casualties:
- Howdy Ice Cream
- Mazza (locations at 9th and 9th and in Sandy. Its original location at 15th and 15th remains open, thankfully.)
- Creek Tea
- Bar George
- Porcupine Pub & Grille (location on 1300 East)
- Red Butte Cafe
- Koko Kitchen
- The Olive Bistro
- Zucca Trattoria
The Salt Lake Tribune reports a longtime-coming development project near the 2100 East 2100 South block will take its place after the owners sold the Blue Plate property to the developer six months ago.
That said, it’s not too late to make the most of the time Blue Plate Diner has left. The restaurant’s official expiration date is May 4, 2021. So, this Sunday, sidle up to the counter and order your favorite Benedict for old time’s sake and wax nostalgic about the “hungover hipster” hub. And, if it’s your first time ask yourself, “How have I never been to Blue Plate?”
Blue Plate Diner
2041 S. 2100 East, SLC