Joel LaSalle, of Main Course Management, has been most recently known for converting historic renovations into modern, vibrant spaces. But for LaSalle’s most recent project, the Stanza Italian Bistro and Wine Bar, the restaurateur decided to completely rebuild.
On Tuesday April 26, LaSalle and his business partner, restaurateur Mikel Trapp, opened the Stanza restaurant to the public. The restaurant replaces what was previously the Faustina restaurant, on the 400 East block of 300 South.
“We didn’t really want to do this until next year, but the failing, leaking roof forced our hand,” said LaSalle. “We all felt like the market loved Faustina but after 11 years we thought that Salt Lake would get more excited about something new and different.”
Failing roofs aside, the one-story building that housed Faustina reflected outdated architectural norms with dark, reflective windows and poor street engagement with shrubbery separating the entrance from the sidewalk.
The new building features large windows and street front views that increase transparency, a key component of vibrancy, by allowing pedestrians and motorists to view the restaurant’s activity and restaurant patrons to view the street activity.
Stanza is built right up to the sidewalk level. The entrance is on the building’s side with a small plaza/outdoor dining area connecting the entryway to 300 South.
Replacing the one story building with a two story structure allowed LaSalle to add 3,000 square-feet of restaurant space. The nearly 8,000 square-foot building can seat up to 140 in the main dining room, while the outdoor patio space can seat up to 80 people. An additional 135 seats of garden view and meeting space is available on the second floor.
While Stanza is visually distinct from Faustina, some of Faustina’s original features remain. Stanza doesn’t have a “zion curtain,” a barrier wall that blocks drinks being made from the view of restaurant patrons, because LaSalle and his team retained Faustina’s bar area that was grandfathered from the 2010 legislation that reinstated the barriers.
“I think our customers can see the elements of the old building that we wanted to keep like the bar area, the main entry and overall footprint,” said LaSalle. “In keeping something from the past, we also wanted to architecturally create something never done on this scale for an independent restaurant.”
Although Stanza is essentially new construction, LaSalle isn’t done with historic renovations. Last year, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake entered into an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with LaSalle for development of the Utah Theater property on the 100 South block of Main Street.