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The End of Ed's
After nearly 50 years serving the U campus and surrounding neighborhoods, Big Ed’s—the greasy spoon everyone loved near the corner of 200 South and University Street—closed in mid-September without explanation. Opened in 1968, the dimly lit, smoke-permeated eatery, known throughout the years as a place where you could meet friends for a drink after (or before)
class—as well as for its “Gawd Awful” plate of two eggs on fried hash browns topped with chili, cheese, and onions (served all day)—is now just a memory. As the U tweeted, “Sad day for campus community. RIP Big Ed’s. What you lacked in culinary skills you made up for in character.”
9 thoughts on “One More: End of Ed’s”
My Dinner with Marian McPartland! Well, it was actually lunch. But I went into Big Ed’s for lunch one day in summer of 1970-something, and there was jazz piano legend McPartland sitting at one of those little two-seat tables to the right of the door. Every other seat was taken, and she dipped her head in permission for me to pull up the vacant chair and join her. Nothing personal, I’m sad to say — she was just being gracious. As it happened, I’d seen her play across the street in Kingsbury Hall earlier, maybe a day earlier, as part of one of those summer jazz institutes. That’s why, though a New York institution, she was in town. Those jazz institute goings-on were a lot of fun, and I snuck in when I could. She was playing in one of those big rehearsal rooms, and was leading an improvisation workshop, and as I remember, she teased it into a surprise finish with, straight out of nowhere, a tightening, rollicking variation of “Mr. Bojangles.” Triumphant stuff! And now later, here she was eating something light and barely there like a salad at Big Ed’s. She seemed refined and bird-like, eating in a non-student and dainty way, hanky in her left paw. She seemed amused when I introduced myself, and then she forked up the last leaf on the plate, left a tip, and departed. Off to Kingsbury Hall for more jazz. Years later, when I heard her talking and playing on NPR, I thought of Big Ed’s, the last leaf on the plate, and Marian McPartland.
Fueling up on hash browns, omelets, over easy eggs with fellow students, while preparing music theory assignments for a class taught by the late Ardean Watts. Linda always had a smile to offer, and made Big Ed’s feel like a home for a part of the school day. Good memories, Good times! Thank you
Before Big Ed’s, it was the Ute Hamburger. As a boy at Stewart School in the 1930’s, I used to go there for lunch. You could get a nice hamburger for 5 cents.
I am saddened to hear of the closing of Big Ed’s. Reading the Continuum article brought back very fond memories. Big Ed’s had a family atmosphere with Linda as the matriarch. Some of my favorite memories are of Chris serving the food with an attitude and a smile, the Gawd Awful topped with sriracha sauce, and watching Linda’s children grow up. It was a truly wonderful place.
Big Ed Robison died on April 03, 2017. He loved that restaurant and the friends he made -there is a strange irony that 2017 saw the end of both Ed’s. I love you dad.
I’m an alum from ‘88 bachelors, ‘97 masters, 2015 doctorate all in nursing. I started working at big Ed’s in 1982 or ‘83. Ed hired me to waitress just as he retired and sold it to Linda and Michael (?). This was my first job working part time during undergrad years and must have worked there for about a year. It was an eclectic hole in the wall with comfort food and regular customers like “tree Bob”, many from the law school and others. End of an era!
I used to sit at Big Ed’s drinking coffe, and missing classes at East High, for hours. Ed would always let us stay until the lunch crowd started showing up. A great guy. He and his wife made the best greasy spoon food. After the place was sold it was moved up to University Street into the old Sams restaurant space. That too was an iconic fixture for us early Stuart School students Many memories of that whole block, including Bimbos Pizzaria and University Pharmacy.
A friend of mine (Alan Weight) went into Ed’s one day and ordered chili. Ed came out himself and brought the chili to the table, just so he could say hello and socialize for a moment. He then turned around and headed for the kitchen.
Alan took the bottle of ketchup and began pouring it (rather liberally) into the chili. From across the room, Ed saw him doing this, and immediately went back in the kitchen. Seconds later, he came out with another bowl of chili, went straight to Alan’s table, and switched the bowls with a rather loud ‘clunk.’
Glaring at Alan, Ed said — rather sternly, and with no hint of a smile — “NOBODY puts ketchup on my chili!”
I am an alum from 1976, but my first year of college was the Fall of 1968, when I first entered Big Ed’s, with mostly friends from the theatre department who practically lived at the PMT. Four years later with a 2 year old, sometimes in tow, I went back to finish my BA. Big Ed’s offered a really good Chef Salad and or so-so breakfast foods, when after rushing in the early mornings to drop my husband of at work, U of U Hospital Ambulatory Clinic, and get my little boy to the “Little Ute Campus” day care, and then get myself to class, after which I would be starving. I left Utah in 1980 and moved back in 1999. The U of U campus changed dramatically in the nearly 20 years i was gone, but Big Ed’s was still there.