If you’ve enjoyed an easier time in recent years ordering a martini before a restaurant meal, if you find dining out in Salt Lake City to be exciting in all its diversity and inventory, or if you love a historic building that has been preserved, repurposed, and given new life, you can likely thank Tom Guinney.
The venerable owner and chief operations officer of Gastronomy Inc. – parent company of the New Yorker, Market Street Grill, and Oyster Bar restaurants – will be honored on January 13th by Mayor Jackie Biskupski, with a presentation of the Key to the City.
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.
“Tom Guinney is an incredible businessman, a strong community partner, a strong mentor to so many, and a great friend,” Mayor Biskupski said. “It’s a great thrill to honor him this way, and to give others a chance to see the breadth of his contributions to Salt Lake City.”
Tom has spent his entire life in the hospitality industry. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1980 from Orange County, California – having already established a track record as an executive chef and manager of fine dining establishments. He joined in a business partnership with Tom Seig 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, Oyster Bar, Market Street Broiler and other restaurants in Salt Lake City. In 2000 and 2007 Gastronomy opened a Market Street Grill, Oyster Bar, and Fresh Fish Market in Cottonwood Heights and West Jordan, respectively.
Tom describes himself as a restaurant manager. But his long record of business leadership, philanthropy, political and social engagement, and mentorship speaks to a man who loves his city and strives to make it better through words and action.
“Being the recipient of 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,” Tom 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.”
In addition to creating a much more vibrant restaurant scene, Tom and his former partners (Tom Seig and John Williams have both passed away), championed architectural preservation by purchasing historic buildings and renovating them in meticulous fashion. The New Yorker, Market Street Grill, and Oyster Bar are each housed in important historic structures. The Market Street Broiler was built in a historic Salt Lake City fire station in the University of Utah neighborhood.
Gastronomy Inc. also bought the historic Salt Lake Hardware and Ford Motor Company buildings, giving them new life as office and reception space.
“Tom has so many attributes and abilities, but I believe one of his most unique talents is his ability to make everyone feel important, welcome, and included. These abilities are the true measure of hospitality. They are the values we share and support in Salt Lake City, as well,” the Mayor said.
Tom’s long list of achievements and honors includes:
- Board member and former president of the Utah Restaurant Association
- Board member of Visit Salt Lake
- Board member of Voices for Utah Children
- Board member of the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition
- Board member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Member of the Governor’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Committee
- Longtime involvement in the Utah AIDS Foundation; Guadalupe Schools; University of Utah; Ballet West; and 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee
Tom has also received dozens of awards and recognitions, including:
- Membership in the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame
- Pioneer Theater Company’s Bravo Award
- The Utah Restaurant Association Lifetime Achievement Award
- The Downtown Alliance Special Achievement Award
- The Governor’s Award of Excellence
- For Gastronomy Inc., Tom accepted recognition for “One of the Best Companies to Work for” by Utah Business Magazine