Comedy club opening at Gateway may be start of shift from retail to entertainment

Posted at 9:56 PM, Nov 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-13 23:56:59-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Gateway mall has been struggling to attract business in recent years, but that could be changing with a new vision for the area that includes both retail and entertainment.

Last week, the Wiseguys Comedy Club opened up a new location at the mall, attracting a big crowd for its first night.

"I just did my first sets here, the crowds were amazing," Comedian Guy Seidel said.

The club used to maintain a downtown presence in Trolley Square, but that closed two years ago. When a spot opened at the Gateway, the owner thought it was a perfect fit.

"There's no doubt about it that the Gateway is in a transition phase, and I believe we are a part of that transition," said owner and comedian Keith Stubbs.

The transition has been years in the making. For years, city officials have continued to debate the growing crime rate and homeless population in the Rio Grande district, where the mall is located.

"New investment, I think, is coming to that neighborhood where folks are seeing the potential," said Salt Lake City's economic development director, Jill Remington Love.

Within the next couple years, Love anticipates more housing projects and entertainment venues will move into the neighborhood. While the Gateway will maintain its retail options, the focus will shift towards attractions in the evening.

"I think we are starting to see a reinvention," Love said. "We think Gateway can really be an entertainment/shopping destination for a younger market."

FOX 13 News reached out to the owners of Gateway for comment on this story, but did not hear back.

According to Stubbs, his club's arrival to the neighborhood is only just the beginning of what the mall intends to do in the future.

"I do believe other entertainment venues are coming here to enhance this space," said Stubbs. "I think it's a great area."