Newest Flower in the Downtown Garden

Serendipitous isn’t a word you hear a lot of entrepreneurs use when describing how their business sprang to life. Especially when it involves renovating a 100+ year old building that used to refrigerate meat. Yet when speaking with new business owner Erica O’Brien of The Rose Estb., serendipitous describes the growth of these unique surroundings like thorns on a rose.

Located at 235 South 400 West, The Rose Estb. is in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City’s historic warehouse district. Built in 1918, the enormous space (exact square footage unknown) originally housed a meat packing plant for the Cudahy Packing Company, which explains why the entire interior was designed to literally be ‘hosed down.’ Rounded concrete floor corners, washed surfaces (wood and otherwise) and high ceiling beams are a peek into the past of this magnificently restored space.

Maintaining the history and integrity of the original structure was paramount for O’Brien. You could call it a labor of love, really, for the whole family. The entire process of developing the business plan and finding the retail space was an exercise of co-creation amongst family and friends. O’Brien’s father is the contractor, and restoring the building to support The Rose’s vision was a family affair.

Father and daughter worked together to scrape five to eight layers of paint off the original brick walls and ceiling. Original doors and window frames (if not the glass) were kept in tact, whether they served a functional or decorative purpose. The bathrooms were renovated to meet current standards (wider door ways, for example) but the design mimics the original. And the end result, while tucked away rooms are still under construction, truly shines as an undertaking with heart, soul and a sense of purpose.

“The whole idea isn’t about the tea, coffee, food…even the money,” says O’Brien. “It’s about people coming together and the experience you get here is such that you want to come back–for the good service, inspiring artistic space, and the amazing food and drink.”

A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world. ~Leo Buscaglia

Designed to offer the progressive downtown population a gathering place in an inspiring and eclectic space, The Rose is truly the brightest new bloom in the ever-growing downtown community garden. And O’Brien’s vision, and many serendipitous twists of fate, have fostered this transformation to take place in a neighborhood that needs and welcomes the brightening blooms of new growth.

Returning to Utah after years away in California for college, where drinking tea and yoga became her lifestyle of choice, O’Brien began to visualize and eventually manifest The Rose. The perfect storm of serendipitous events made the space available, the renovation possible, and The Rose was born. A sign that it was meant to be appeared in the 1918 building when O’Brien found a weathered, wooden tattooed sign in the shape of a rose, with indecipherable names printed on it. She, and The Rose, were home.

Fortuitous indeed.

By Salt Lake Digs Contributor, Lori Berntsen


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