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Entrepreneurs see opportunity; open two restaurants during the pandemic bringing more than 100 jobs

Posted at 9:35 PM, Jan 14, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — It has been a tough year for many business owners, especially restaurant owners.

FOX13 has shared many stories of restaurant owners struggling to stay open. While many restaurants owners have not had success during the pandemic, other entrepreneurs and foodies are opening new places to eat.

Ryan Davies, along with his business partners, have decided to get into the restaurant business for the first time. With a background in buying, selling, and growing businesses the entrepreneurs saw an opportunity, Davies said.

“We noticed as restaurants started closing, people still wanted an experience, and we knew post COVID people would want that experience that they had before COVID and then we married that with what does Utah not have,” he said.

The group has decided to focus high quality food with all-natural ingredients, in an environment that offers an experience for guests. So far, the group has opened a Latin inspired restaurant, Nino Viejo at Station Park in Farmington.

Next month, the group plans to open Niccoli’s in downtown Salt Lake City, an Italian restaurant that offers several concepts in one location.

“The scariest part is really understanding what the demand is going to be like during these crazy times,” Davies said.

As restaurants closed, landlords were looking for new tenants and from an economic standpoint, Davies said, this gave them an opportunity to negotiate batter rates which helped slightly mitigate risk for the group.

“We made sure we had enough cash to sort of withstand that, understanding that the opportunity really is when COVID ends,” he said.

Opening a new restaurant during the pandemic has come with its set of challenges, Davies said.

“I think the biggest roadblock is the city offices are closed, everybody is working from home, so you sort of take your normal process and add a few weeks or months for just COVID type delays,” he said.

Between the two restaurants, more than 100 jobs are being created for Utahns.