Big Ed’s was a staple of the University of Utah community from 1968 until it closed last month.
Students and locals woke up one morning in September to find a sign reading “Sorry restaurant closed” taped on the door of the restaurant. The popular hangout has had multiple owners throughout the years. Now, the family of the original “Big Ed” is looking for a way to reopen the joint.
Several days after the restaurant on 210 University Street closed, a sign with the property owner’s number advertising the space to new tenants replaced the closure sign. Hayden Peterson of Landmark Property and Development said the company is open to anything that will bring in business.
“Our hope is that we can find a tenant who is well suited for the student demographic that caters the area,” Peterson said. “We’re looking for an owner who can upgrade the station.”
The founder of Big Ed’s, Edward Robison, passed away April 3. Caitlin Hutton is Robison’s granddaughter. She hopes the family can purchase the building to keep her grandfather’s memory alive.
“We want to make it the establishment it was back in the 70s,” Hutton said. “While some of the recipes my grandfather took to the grave, my mother and her siblings inherited the original, loved recipes, including the famous ‘Gawd Awful’ in all its original glory.”
Jennifer Robison Abendroth, Robison’s daughter and Hutton’s mother, is invested in the idea of keeping Big Ed’s running with her sister. She said there isn’t a better way to commemorate her father than by reopening the restaurant he loved.
“We’d love to continue my father’s legacy,” Abendroth said. “He’d claim running the restaurant was the very best time of his life. He put his heart and soul into it. It was such a close thing to him.”
Abendroth has owned several businesses and wants to combine her experience and Robison’s recipes to restore the original atmosphere of the Big Ed’s. She said some of the recipes were changed by the most recent owners.
“We would take it back to be more of a diner,” Abendroth said. “A relaxed, friendly environment where students and faculty have a home away from home. Dad won several contests in soups. He even used to name his omelets after U of U faculty. We want to bring back his soups, burgers, and original recipes into the mix. We want to bring it all back.”
The Robison sisters said they have proposed their ideas to the property owner and are awaiting a response.
“We have the capability to do it,” Abendroth said. “I think it’d be really successful.”