Building From Here: Publik Kitchen

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Libby Castellani

Building From Here: Publik Kitchen

Building From Here: Publik Kitchen

One of our favorite spots to grab coffee and a bite to eat is getting a makeover. Lloyd Architects is working once again with the Salt Lake City staple, Publik Coffee. This time to revamp Publik Kitchen. We started working with Missy Greis and Publik Coffee in 2013 on an adaptive reuse of a 1940's warehouse into their downtown location. Afterwards, we designed the cozy space in the Avenues and we were the architects behind everyone's favorite University dive spot, Publik Big Ed’s. 

The new and improved Publik Kitchen, located at 9th & 9th, will maintain the intimate warmth of the existing space. Owner Missy Greis describes it as having the "same soul, different silhouette." One of the key programmatic elements is including more indoor and outdoor dining space for the community to gather. We sat down with Missy to learn more about what’s behind the project and we’re happy to share this interview with you.

Having done adaptive reuse projects with Lloyd Architects in the past, can you talk about the decision to do new construction for the revamp of your 9th and 9th Publik Kitchen location? What factors contributed to the decision to demolish and build new?

Greis… The decision to raze the existing building was difficult, but a full rebuild was necessary to support our restaurant needs with a REAL kitchen with all of our amenities inside the building, a larger dining and patio area and to build in infrastructure that would support us. The current building has an outdoor walk-in, a limited/inefficient HVAC system, a defective plumbing system that flooded our basement several times a year and we also had a defective water line that ran uphill to connect to city services. Putting the band-aids on it for 24 years was becoming cost prohibitive and with the earthquake we discovered more structural problems that needed to be remediated via a rebuild vs a renovation.

What materials were salvaged from the original building and how are they being repurposed/reused both for the new Publik Kitchen and elsewhere? 

Greis… We saved brick that will be reused on the new structure. Our PK light fixtures and our “famous” plywood tiles will all be reincorporated and, of course, we saved, and will reuse, our sign. George's Architectural Salvage took a good portion of the remaining brick, and all of the kitchen equipment that couldn’t be reused, as well as all of the doors/windows, plumbing fixtures, the countertops, roofing materials, water heaters, radiators and some of the flooring. We gave our dining room furniture and booths, and some of the kitchen equipment to a restaurateur in need. 

When you closed up shop in late November, what happened to your staff and to the perishable goods?

Greis… Our employees were reappointed to other Publik locations. The perishables were donated to the Food Justice Coalition, SLCFD, The Otherside Academy and to our employees too!

What sustainable design elements are you looking to incorporate in this project?

Greis… a rooftop solar array, a small green roof and a rooftop beehive will join us! But our company’s overall commitment to sustainability will continue with our composting and food waste partnerships with Momentum and Wasatch Resource Recovery. We also provided a training opportunity for SLCFD before demo – tactical rooftop training on old buildings in a non emergency is hard to come by, so we let them use the building for 2 weeks beforehand.  

What exciting features can guests expect to see at the new Publik Kitchen?

Greis… The beehives! As well as a larger dining room, two new patios, a slightly larger menu and a liquor license. 

With each iteration of Publik, the brand conveys a strong sense of inclusivity and community that enriches each of their locations. We're excited to continue our relationship with Publik and be a part of building on that ethos.

Stay in the loop and visit Publik's other three locations by going to