The HandleBar, 751 N. 300 West, opened earlier this week and is geared toward thirsty cyclists and anyone who appreciates a thick, twisting mustache, said David Morris, co-owner with Jesse Wilkerson.
Those names might sound familiar. HandleBar is the fifth Utah bar for Morris — who sports an impressive mustache and sideburns. He currently owns Piper Down in Salt Lake City and Ice Haus in Murray. He also is the co-owner — with Bridget Gordon, owner of Green Pig Pub — of Ogden’s Funk ’n Dive Bar and Harp and Hound gastropub.
HandleBar replaces Club Jam, a popular gay bar and dance club that opened in 2008 but in recent years had struggled.
(Leah Hogsten|The Salt Lake Tribune) The new sign at HandleBar showcases its cycling and mustache theme.
That’s true. At one point in the 1970s, Salt Lake City could boast 10 gay or lesbian bars. Now, with the closure of Jam, two remain: the Sun Trapp and Club Try-Angles.
The slow demise of the gay bar scene, in Utah and nationally, has largely been attributed to the rise of the internet and dating apps.
“It’s exciting and sad at the same time,” said Rob Moolman, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, who added that having “queer spaces” where the LGBTQ community can “come out and be themselves” is important.
The Marmalade district is still a place many LGBTQ individuals call home. They affectionately dub it the “gayborhood” and proudly fly rainbow flags from nearby balconies and windows.
(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Vintage bicycles hang from the ceiling at HandleBar in Salt Lake City.
Customers won’t recognize the old Club Jam building. Morris and Wilkerson gutted the inside, cut big windows to make it airy and light, built a new wood bar and hung bicycles from the ceiling for decoration. There are even one-of-a-kind bar stools made with bicycle parts.
(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) HandleBar, a new "biker" bar in Salt Lake City’s Marmalade District, features iconic photos of famous mustached men, including Freddie Mercury, Utah’s own Wilford Brimley, Cheech Marin and Burt Reynolds.
The are dozens of beers on tap and cocktails with names to match the bar’s theme. Look for Brigham’s Mustache Ride (we’re blushing) and Porter’s Unicycle — legend has it that Orrin Porter Rockwell, Brigham Young’s famous bodyguard, liked to ride a unicycle around the Mormon temple, Morris said.
The HandleBar kitchen is a work in progress, but the property is large enough to accommodate a regular rotation of food trucks, Morris said. The trucks will be parked close to the patio with its lights and colorful umbrellas.