Mayor Biskupski to honor longtime restaurateur, business leader, philanthropist Tom Guinney with Key to the City

Tom Guinney. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake City Mayor's Office

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Mayor Jackie Biskupski gave out her her second Key to the City on Friday.

The key was given to Gastronomy Inc. owner and chief of operations Tom Guinney.

Guinney was recognized for 36 years of leadership in Salt Lake City’s restaurant and hospitality industry, for contributions to the local economy and cultural scene, and for his philanthropic and historic preservation work, according to a news release from the Mayor’s Office.

This is only the second time the Mayor has awarded the Key to the City. The honor is reserved for citizens with a substantial record of building the community through combined business, volunteer, political, educational, and cultural efforts, the news release said.

“It’s been my pleasure to know Tom Guinney professionally and personally for years, and I’m thrilled to recognize him for his many contributions to our city,” Biskupski said in a prepared statement. “Thousands of people have built memories of fine meals and great times at Gastronomy restaurants. Tom has also mentored and led others to move ahead in the restaurant business, and has given back through charities and community service.”

Guinney moved to Salt Lake City in 1980 from Orange County, Calif., having already established a track record as an executive chef and manager of fine dining establishments. He joined in a business partnership with Tom Sieg and John Williams, who opened downtown’s iconic New Yorker in 1978.

Forming Gastronomy Inc., the three men went on to open Market Street Grill and Oyster Bar, Market Street Broiler and other restaurants in Salt Lake City. In 2000 and 2007, Gastronomy opened a Market Street Grill and Oyster Bar and Fresh Fish Market in Cottonwood Heights and South Jordan, respectively.

“Receiving the Key to the City is a special honor for me personally and for Gastronomy, and I am very grateful to the mayor for this recognition,” Guinney said. “I was literally born into the restaurant business and have worked in it all my life. The lessons about food and service were learned early, and continue to guide me and the company. I’m committed to the industry, to the people who work in it, to Salt Lake City and the State of Utah, and to the people who are our customers.”

Tom Sieg died in 2008 at the age of 70. John Williams died last May, at age 72, in a fire in his Capitol Hill home.

Salt Lake City’s Market Street Grill and Oyster Bar, as well as the New Yorker, are each housed in historic buildings. Gastronomy has also acquired the historic Salt Lake Hardware building on South Temple and 400 West, renovating it as office and reception space.

The Key to the City honor was presented to Guinney on Friday afternoon.

Artist Jann Haworth, who received the first Key to the City, spoke highly of Guinney.

“The Gastronomy group led the charge in making Salt Lake a ‘foodie’ destination, and year after year, they remain among the restaurants by which you judge the standards of national and international restaurants. Very happy to hear the mayor is honoring Tom.”

Back in May, Haworth, artist and creative director at The Leonardo museum, also spoke to Gephardt Daily about Guinney’s former business partner, John Williams.

“The SLC Pepper Mural on 400 West owes its existence to John,” she said. “I had meetings trying to develop and place the idea for the mural in 2003/4 with a number of people, and the conversations included who might be a subject for the mural whose foundation purpose was to cite people who where ‘catalysts for change.’ The first principle was to equalize the number of women on the mural, support the presence of ethnic minorities, and broaden the idea of persons of note beyond ‘celebrity.’

“As a group, we kept coming back to the then blank wall on 400 West as a possible site for the mural. In my wildest dream, that was the wall. John Williams was contacted. He agreed to meet us there at the wall. I explained the project — and he said we were welcomed to proceed. He said ‘You have carte blanche.’ Complete artistic freedom and trust is rare — artists are used to caveats and ‘yes, but…,’ and we are good at accommodating the needs of a site or conditions, but this was a VERY bold unconditional ‘Yes’ — in a conservative city, in difficult times, in a bold a location.”

Biskupski spoke to Gephardt Daily about Williams when he died.

“I have known John since the ’90s,” she said. “He was one of my early political supporters and that support never ended. Always believing in me and the work I was doing.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here