Business

Local business supports local athletes

PARK CITY, Utah. — While dining at Red Banjo Pizza on Main Street, Park City’s oldest business, patrons peruse the old-timey photos of the pizza parlor and of Main Street in all its sparsity in the ’60s but a few steps past the plaque emblazoned into the same wooden floorboards with the date of 1962 is a grouping of much more modern art.

Olympic memorabilia from local athletes adorn the walls over tables prompting robust discussions from customers who may be all-knowing about the lesser-known sport of Nordic Combined or it may be diner’s first time ever hearing that phrase. Between bites of pizza, they often discuss how interesting the single-day, double-sport combined score of nordic ski jumping and cross country skiing is one of the oldest contested sports in the winter Olympics. If they have questions, they just ask one of their servers, bussers, cashiers, or dishwashers, or pizza deliverers who have all the answers.

Billy Demong’s signed Olympic bib from the Vancouver 2010 Games where he won his gold and silver nordic combined medals hangs in a frame over the same tables which a member of his family may be happily taking orders. The Toly family is the original owner of Red Banjo and it’s not uncommon to see four generations of her family, Grandma “Shiney” (nicknamed by the grandkids because of her shiny, silvery hair), Scott and Jane, Tana, and young Donovan, a nordic combined athlete himself, in there at any given shift. Jane told me, “We have always been happy to provide jobs to local athletes, they have a reliable work ethic.”

A 2002 Olympic torch can be seen on the wall next to a towering 250-centimeter long nordic ski jumping ski next to which two other of the Toly’s hires, family members of eight-time Olympic/Paralympic/Youth Olympic announcer Carl Roepke, also nordic combined athletes, work. Ben Loomis is another Team USA Nordic Combined athlete on the wall of fame.

Olympians and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher have worked in the same space where their Nordic Combined Olympic Team photos also sit next to signed posters of other local athletes and former employees like ski jumper Kevin Bickner, and freestyle aerialist Olympic medal-winning Joe Pack. Tana told me, ”I really try to ensure the restaurant is a place where people can come and feel like they’re part of a family.”

The Toly’s community roots prove that these pieces of sports art come their way simply gifted as a direct result of their lasting friendships with countless athletes from these and other more traditional sports within the Park City School District.

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