Favorite (And Famous) Main Street Restauranteur Karleen Reilly Passes

Jan 13, 2021

Karleen Reilly at her restaurant Uptown Fare.
Credit Karleen Reilly

One of Park City Main Street’s most colorful characters Karleen Reilly passed away on Monday morning. 

If you were one who got to enjoy her daily soup and sandwiches, consider yourself lucky. Reilly owned Uptown Fare where it was a fixture on upper Main St. in the Star Hotel, from 1999 until the building was condemned and she was forced to move in 2015. Seating was limited to about 20 people or so – and many times lunch was enjoyed at a table with people other than you arrived with.

With the help of her fans, Reilly moved Uptown Fare to the new location of the Kimball Art Center on Kearns Blvd. and operated there for two years, before closing shop  March 30, 2018. For days before the closure, the restaurant was standing room only – it was the last chance to enjoy her famous tomato soup and roasted turkey or egg salad sandwich.

In addition to her great home-cooked food, she was famous for her anti-Sundance stance – a story that even made it into the New York Times. Reilly would only serve locals during the Sundance Film Festival because the Sundancers, she said, were too demanding and pushy. In an interview with KPCW in 2018, she said she had to hire a bouncer to check IDs...

“I had a big, huge black guy from England. He didn't know anything about Park City," she said. "When he took over the job, he was so excited  - he got his picture in the paper. Tony was his name," Reilly said. "Because they all have credentials, and he would say, nope, this is for locals only and they'd walk away and people would try to sneak in - do all kinds of weird things because then it really hit that it went out and so the Sundancers started doing weird things to get in there... you know taking off their credentials, taking off their black. I got over a million dollars’ worth of PR off of that.”

Reilly had worked in restaurants most of her life. She also operated a catering business and worked as a private chef.

I was a good cook... so I was watching Oprah one day and she says, hey if you love what you do, you'll always be good at it. And I thought wow, I love to cook so why don't I try it.”

Her daughter Nivin was the one responsible for the famous egg salad sandwiches. Reilly would laugh when people asked for the recipe of just three ingredients – hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and salt.

When she turned 70 – Reilly decided she was tired and had a lot of other things she wanted to do...so closed the restaurant.

“That restaurant took up 15 hours a day," she said. "Anyway, I looked at it -- anyway I sliced the pie. And people always get mad at me for closing for three weeks but it's like hey I got fridges to clean out. You know I've got inventory. I've got a lot to do and people just didn't understand that. I was there, I never left that restaurant, except to go to the farmers’ market."

According to a post on the Uptown Fare Facebook page, Reilly passed away at home with her family and it was noted that greater than her love of cooking for her community was her love for her family.

She is survived by her husband Kevin, three children and two grandkids. No memorial is planned until its safe to do so. Condolences can be mailed to the family at PO Box 846, Oakley, UT 84055.