The 2016 Sundance Film Festival will be the last for Robert Redford's Zoom restaurant - a Park City staple that anchors Main Street and always plays host to industry power players and talent during the annual event. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Zoom will close on May 31, 2017, but the details around the closure are much more complicated.
Rumors of changes at the restaurant have been circling since the summer when Sundance Partners, owner of Zoom, sued the landlord of the property at 660 Main Street, alleging that Ken Abdalla was trying to force the restaurant out before the expiration of its current lease in 2020.
An attorney for Abdalla tells a different story. Joseph Wrona of Wrona Dubois Law Firm tells THR that Zoom filed a lawsuit against his client to cover up wrongdoing. "Zoom was allowing literally tons of grease to collect in the crawl space under the Zoom kitchen last winter," Wrona says. "The building owner discovered the mess and demanded that Zoom clean it up. Zoom refused and tried to conduct an illegal demolition and reconstruction of its kitchen area to get rid of the evidence of its culpability."
Wrona continues that his client, landlord Abdalla, caught Zoom doing this and alerted city officials, who promptly shut the restaurant down. It reopened shortly thereafter. "Zoom then filed a bogus lawsuit against the landlord trying to obscure Zoom's culpability for its breach of its lease obligations," he says. "I then began crushing Zoom in litigation, and after I filed a motion for summary judgment proving that Zoom had exclusive access to the contaminated crawl space underneath the kitchen, Zoom begged me to allow Zoom to dismiss its lawsuit."
Local news outlets picked up on all the bad blood between Zoom management and Abdalla, a financier and real estate mogul (known for buying and razing O.J. Simpson's Brentwood compound) who has purchased several parcels on Main Street to develop into luxury properties. And in the past few weeks, a source tells The Hollywood Reporter that Zoom staff had been informing potential patrons of a tentative plan to close in May of 2017, a decision confirmed by the restaurant's attorneys at Salt Lake City law firm Magleby Cataxinos Greenwood, as well as Wrona.
"Although the court ruled in our favor on dispositive motions, my clients have elected to settle outside of court so that Zoom can serve the Park City community without distraction," attorney Peggy Tomsic said in a statement to THR. "After 21 years of service, Zoom is shutting its doors at the Depot location on May 31, 2017."
Wrona said it's a decision he and his client fought for. "I demanded approximately $65,000 to reimburse the landlord for its attorneys' fees incurred as a result of Zoom's bogus lawsuit, and I demanded that Zoom terminate its lease three years early and depart the premises after the ski season," Wrona says, adding that Zoom capitulated.
Until then, it's business as usual, but a restaurant source said fest-goers should expect some special events to happen during Sundance 2017 to commemorate the closure. However, it might not be gone for long: Tomsic added that Zoom is "sincerely grateful for the community support and patronage over these last two decades," and that the restaurant is exploring "several very exciting opportunities" in Park City for a continued presence.
As for the space, Wrona adds that his client "has a concept in mind for the building but does not yet want to reveal that concept to the public."
Redford opened Zoom in 1995 as part of his Sundance Resort family. The building that houses Zoom first opened in 1886 as the Union Pacific Railroad station.
A rep for Redford declined further comment.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.