John Saltas is Salt Lake City's original Private Eye, founder of the alternative newsweekly City Weekly, and forever a sore thumb to those spindly-spined politicians and ridiculous local lawmakers who would make Utah a worse place. He's one of Utah's best, and this year marks the City Weekly's 25th Best of Utah issue, where one can find an all-encompassing list of the highs of this elevated state.
Saltas recollects: "Twenty-five years ago, we were admitted into the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and quickly borrowed what is the staple of our industry: the Best Of paper and reader polls," he says. "No one had done anything like that here before." Saltas continues that, at the time, there were 300 or so outlets where one could pick up a City Weekly; now, the robust edition is distributed to nearly 5,000 outlets. Tens of thousands of votes are counted for the Reader's Picks, and to round out the issue, the savvy editorial staff weighs in for their picks.
Saltas remembers Salt Lake City when the first Best Of issue came out: "Twenty-five years ago, Salt Lake City was a little bit tougher to live in. The rules for clubs were tough. There weren't that many really good restaurants. That was before Sundance became a really big deal and way before the Olympics," he says.
"Over these 25 years, we've celebrated everything that is great about Utah. Every event, every restaurant, every club, retail store and personality," Saltas continues. "Everyone and everything that's been accoladed, we stand by those picks. They were given recognition, and if it helped in any way, shape or form to make Utah a better place, we're happy about that."
"The real best of Utah is yet to come, though."
Find the 25th anniversary Best Of issue online at CityWeekly.net or grab the physical edition at local merchants.
*Full disclosure: I am a former employee of City Weekly and continue to freelance for them from time to time. However, that in no way influenced this article (well, other than that I stand behind the Best Of process). On a personal note, I have a deep gratitude for John and other CW employees who took me in years ago and let me cut my writing, and eventually, photography chops. It was my great pleasure to take a portrait of a mentor.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.