Proper Brewery co-owner Andrew Tendick and Chris Prentice are sitting on the soon-to-be Proper Brewing patio, the sounds of construction coming from the building.
“It’s nice talking to you, but we’ll be even happier when we’re open and able to offer you a beer and a burger,” says Prentice, the general manager of the new bar & restaurant. The location is expected to open this winter at the former location of the Atomic Bar and Grill (1393 Highway 191).
The craft brewery already has four locations in Salt Lake City, in addition to selling its beers commercially, and was recently recognized as having one of the top three burgers in the Salt Lake City area and the number one vegan burger by City Weekly.
The Moab location will be Proper’s first outside of the Salt Lake area, but the opening is also a sort of homecoming: Tendick grew up in Moab and his family still lives here.
“It’s great to come home,” says Tendick, “and as a brewery, it gives us a statewide brick-and-mortar footprint that no one else has.”
Tendick oversees the food at Proper locations, a passion he picked up working in Moab restaurants. At the age of 14, he started bussing tables at Eddie McStiff’s after school and worked his way into the kitchen.
After college, a friend suggested he consider being a chef as a profession and he returned to Moab, apprenticing in the kitchen of Center Cafe with chef-owners Zee and Paul McCarroll (the building now houses Arches Thai).
“They instilled in me a lot in terms of their approach to food,” says Tendick. “That was really my start in this entire industry.”
Tendick worked his way through kitchens in Salt Lake City before meeting two brothers, Rio and Liam Connelly, who were deeply committed to craft brewing. The group opened its first location in 2013.
“Our slogan is Beer Done Proper,” says Tendick. “We’re not necessarily into the crazy wacky beers. We sometimes use the comparison to someone who doesn’t play guitar well but uses a lot of pedals—we like to be creative, but we want things done right.”
That also goes into the food side of things, he says. Proper kitchens try to make everything from scratch and use local and regional ingredients with care and attention.
From his Moab background, Tendick knew Tim Buckingham, the former owner of the Atomic Grill & Lounge which closed in March 2020.
“I’ve known Tim for a long time and told him we would be interested in the building,” says Tendick. “Then, during COVID, he reached out. It’s an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
The property, situated north of Moab along the highway, is ideal for what Proper was looking for: a bar that will feature both Proper beers and other featured craft beers from around the state, a kitchen, room for a small-batch experimental brewery, and a large patio out back with a stage.
“This patio is arguably the best patio in Moab. It’s out of the hustle and bustle of Main Street,” says Tendick. “We’re excited about the opportunity to host concerts and movie nights and community events. Moab has a lot of musicians that are chomping at the bit for a stage like this.”
Prentice lights up at the mention of community events, already bursting with excitement for potential events and collaborations. Proper provided beer for the Free Concert Series and the Moab Music Festival this year, he points out, and they’re getting involved with KZMU (where he is a DJ), the Humane Society, and the Youth Garden Project just for starters.
“We’re a part of this community, we have history here,” he says. “We want to do right by the town, and the town will do right by us.”
“We’re very fortunate to have been connected to Chris. It’s a partnership,” says Tendick.
The two are excited to open this winter to be able to focus on the local community for multiple months before a rush of tourists.
“You get into this business because you’re passionate about food or community, but this phase is so different,” says Tendick. “It’s licenses and contractors and getting it set up. Our comfort zone will be when it’s up and running.”
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