Corporate Cuisine Awards

Utah’s Best of the Best Restaurants

Di Lewis and Sarah Cutler

August 1, 2012

Best Cocktails

Gracie’s was never meant to be an ordinary bar. Owners Deno Dakis and Shawn Frehner knew from the beginning that Gracie’s was supposed to be something more. So in June 2009, the Salt Lake gastropub was born.

They wanted a clean, relaxed atmosphere. The frequent live music, game rooms and overall modern feel makes Gracie’s the perfect place to kick back after work or discuss a business deal over a drink. The delicious food, including a tapas menu, is a cut above other pubs. And the drinks are sure to put a refreshing finish on a hot summer day. Try one of the mojitos, available in many flavors, and see why they’re one of the most popular drinks in the place.

Best Business Lunch

“Wild is the key,” says Fred Boutwell, general manager. “We use the core concept of fresh fish and mold the seasonality around that. We like to feature them when they are fresh and when they are wild.” Fresh wild salmon, halibut, shrimp, oysters, calamari—all of the seafood is featured at peak season and flown in to Salt Lake City daily.

In January and February, Market Street holds its annual crab festival, where five different types of crab are offered and served in various ways. A wildly popular lunch option is the clam chowder, which includes flavoring from leeks, bay leaves, thyme and Tabasco. It’s no surprise that Market Street won Best Business Lunch, as the seafood is dressed to impress.

Best Business Catering

More than three decades ago, Maxine Turner was asked to run a catering business done by a local Jewish women’s organization as a fundraiser. Little did she know that simple request would lead her into a new career. “This wasn’t my chosen field, but I found it was my passion,” says Turner, president of Cuisine Unlimited.

She started small with her infant daughter in tow. “Victoria started out in a bouncy chair on top of the counter watching us prepare,” Turner says, laughing. Soon she decided to pursue catering as a business on her own. By partnering with Rowland Hall, she fed students while getting rent-free access to a kitchen for outside catering jobs.

After more side projects and expansions, Turner took Cuisine Unlimited into full-time catering and her husband, Marvin, joined the business. While the current recession has hit the business, Turner says she knew they would make it because they’d already weathered the recession of the 1980s. Turner communicated with her bankers to make sure the company’s lines of credit stayed open. The company also launched Cuisine Express, a no-frills catering service, which Turner says let clients know the company understood budgets were tight.

Cuisine Unlimited has positioned itself as a one-stop catering company. Its Salt Lake City office building stores linens, thousands of sets of cutlery, hundreds of different china designs and décor for any event. “I take seriously that we provide events to people,” Turner says. “Every event is important because it’s important to the person we’re serving.”

She says the whole company tests and works on the menu to get as broad a variety of offerings as possible. Her personal favorite is a mandarin green salad, mango chicken and chocolate cake. “Catering in larger cities can have a niche market. In cities the size of Salt Lake, you must be more diversified,” Turner says.

Cuisine Unlimited is getting ready to undergo an even larger change when Turner retires in two years and fully hands the reigns to her two sons, Aaron and Jeff. She says, “Transitioning a family business isn’t easy, but with everything that’s difficult is something truly worthwhile.”

Best Business Casual

Churrasco, the Brazilian tradition of grilling, is a large part of the experience at Tucanos. Meats are seasoned and cooked on skewers over open-flame grills and served directly off the skewer. Nicole Huntington, general manager, says the owners of Tucanos head to Brazil every couple of years to see how the cuisine is evolving and how to implement the techniques here.

The atmosphere at the restaurant is enhanced with lively Brazilian music and bright, energetic colors. According to Huntington, it’s a great place for business dining. “People can come and eat a good meal in 30 minutes if they like, because they control how fast they want to eat,” she says.

Huntington recommends trying Nachos Brasileiros, a Tucanos favorite that has chopped top sirloin (brisket), black beans, jack and cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, black olives, shredded lettuce, sour cream and a green chile salsa.


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