Popular bar, Garage on Beck, reopens several months after fire


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SALT LAKE CITY — A popular bar and music venue north of downtown is finally back open after closing for several months following a fire.

On Thursday evening, regulars and staff greeted each other with hugs at Garage on Beck, excited to return for the first time since late October.

Unwinding after work, Deirdre Babcock stood by the bar counter, saying "hi" to familiar faces.

She showed up to Garage on Beck without anyone, but she always knows someone. Babcock joked with a group standing at the bar, giving a couple of people hugs.

"Good to see you," one man said.

"Good to see you, too," she replied with a smile.

Not far from the bar, a group sitting at a table called out to her. She walked over and hugged a woman who stood up to say "hi."

"How are you?" the woman asked.

"So good," Babcock replied as the two laughed.

It's moments like those that Babcock explained make this her favorite place in town.

"It's literally the family bar. Everyone comes here," Babcock said. "You know everyone that comes here. It's awesome."

Deirdre Babcock, right, hugs and laughs with another customer she knows at Garage on Beck in Salt Lake City on Thursday. The popular bar recently reopened after a devastating fire.
Deirdre Babcock, right, hugs and laughs with another customer she knows at Garage on Beck in Salt Lake City on Thursday. The popular bar recently reopened after a devastating fire. (Photo: Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL-TV)

Babcock hasn't been to the Garage on Beck in months, though.

The bar's family has been fragmented, following a weekend in late October when flames tore through the kitchen, closing the tight-knit establishment.

"I didn't believe it," Babcock said. "And then they sent me pictures, and I was just like, oh, oh. It was shocking. It was shocking to a lot of us."

Garage on Beck owner Bob McCarthy had to decide if he would even reopen. This is the second fire his business has suffered in the past 10 years, and he said it would be the third time he'd have to rebuild.

"It burned the heart. So, it took all the electrical, all the plumbing, all the gas and everything," McCarthy said. "I had to kind of build the entire structure from the heat, to the electrical, and everything."

But he knew he had to do whatever it took to reopen.

"I just came to the conclusion with everybody's energy telling me what to do," McCarthy said. "I knew it was worth it."

Local bands who love to play in the intimate venue even jumped in to help, hosting a benefit concert after the fire.

Seven months later, the same longtime loyal servers came back. The bartenders, the kitchen staff, couldn't wait to get working.

Server Lexis Ely bopped around the patio all evening, taking orders and serving up cold drinks. She said she's been anticipating the first day of reopening for a while.

"I know we're all just really stoked to still be here, and to come back. So, a lot of high energy," Ely said.

Regulars also returned, excited.

McCarthy stood with Jesse Wilkerson, who owns Handle Bar just down the street. He said Wilkerson gave him a lot of great support during the closure. The two hugged, as Wilkerson gave McCarthy an upbeat "congratulations."

Others around the bar and patio also made sure to give their hugs and positive messages to McCarthy.

Garage on Beck owner Bob McCarthy, right, hugs a customer who returned for the reopening Thursday.
Garage on Beck owner Bob McCarthy, right, hugs a customer who returned for the reopening Thursday. (Photo: Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL-TV)

McCarthy said he was seeing many people for the first time in months.

"To see the people here, it changed the entire vibe after so many months of being here," McCarthy said.

The opening comes just in time for summer, and McCarthy said they've got a lineup of live shows every weekend and on some weeknights.

Babcock couldn't wait for the reopening and said she wanted to see how the rebuild turned out.

"I wanted to experience the new atmosphere," she said. "It feels the same. Yeah, it's awesome."

Picking back up where they left off, the customers who consider each other family sat down and chatted over drinks and a good meal, unwinding together.

"It's a one-of-a-kind place," Babcock said. "It truly is."

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Lauren Steinbrecher
Lauren Steinbrecher is an Emmy award-winning reporter and multimedia journalist who joined KSL in December 2021.

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