It has been six months since City Creek Center announced its plans for a disco-themed nightclub and vegan restaurant. And while the two businesses had promising opening weekends the crowds soon dissipated. By spring both venues were boarded up, and speculation ran wild what new retail opportunities might take their place.
“I think we learned some important lessons from Quorum of the ’70s and Nourish & Strengthen,” said Gary Stevenson, presiding bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The brethren thought they had some sure-fire winners, but it turns out our demographic just isn’t interested in doing the Hustle or chowing down on tofu.”
“The powers of discernment and prophecy are never 100 percent, particularly when it comes to the church’s revelations on swanky retail developments like City Creek Center.” said Dallin H. Oaks, one of the church’s twelve apostles. “The important thing to remember is that no actual tithing money was lost. We keep those two piles of money in two completely separate vaults, I can assure you.”
For Stevenson and Oaks the demise of Nourish & Strengthen, an upscale vegan eatery that had promised “a safe space for Saints to experience meatless eating”, brings an opportunity to pivot in the opposite direction. Recently the church has been conducting market research using folks that work in and around Temple Square as a kind of uninformed focus group. And what they have found is being used to improve City Creek’s offerings.
“We watch our employees that work in the Church Office Building carefully—very carefully,” said Stevenson. “We noticed that about 70 percent of them are sneaking over to the Maverick gas station on North Temple to get their hourly diet cola fix.”
Stevenson said that this clandestine carbonated constitutional has been an issue for years. “In the past we would have tried to curb this trend by putting up little signs along the way to the Maverick saying ‘Remember who you are and what your drink represents’ or ‘Your soda should be as white and delightsome as 7-Up’ but these are different times.”
So instead of their usual aggressively passive-aggressive strategy, the Church is saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, sell soda to ‘em.” That means out with the vegan eats and in with a Diet Coke Factory Store.
‘“As you know, we recently announced that Christ’s restored church has never had a problem with caffeinated soda pop,” Oaks said. “Frankly, I don’t know why people ever thought we did? So with that recent clarification we feel confident that the saints will really enjoy getting their diet colas from a source that reflects their values.”
As for the large space vacated by Quorum of the ’70s, Stevenson and Oaks said there was a lot of internal discussion of possible replacements, but ultimately it was David A. Bednar’s suggestion of a CrossFit gym that came out on top.
“When it comes to fitness, you just can’t shut Elder Bednar up,” Oaks said. “He is like the Twelve’s version of Paul Ryan. I made the mistake of asking him about how his Ragnar race went and I thought he was going to keep talking until the Second Coming.”
Bednar has been exhorting the Saints as of late about their lack of physical fitness. In a recent conference talk the church leader, who the Bloggernacle has dubbed ‘The ABpostle’, said that the modern church had grown soft and doughy. “Hard times call for hard men,” said Bednar last fall. “We must temper our steel in the fiery furnace for the Lord.”
“Strippling Warriors will be a state-of-the-art workout facility,” said Bednar as he walked a contingent of reporters through the nearly-completed space. “In the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ, we read about a prophet named Nephi. He describes himself as being “large in stature”, and it is my belief that in order to do God’s heavy lifting we need to aspire to be like Nephi of old.”
Strippling Warriors boasts the latest in workout equipment along with walls covered in inspirational fitness quotes lifted from Mormon teachings. Bednar directed the media tour to one message in particular featuring a quote from the Doctrine & Covenants. “We believe that the church, and even this country, will one day be saved by ‘The One Mighty and Strong’,” Bednar said. “If you are like me you grew up thinking that you might be the fulfillment of that prophecy. Well I am here to testify that you can’t be The One Mighty and Strong without working for it. You pay those dues in sweat. You wanna be the White Horse? You gotta start by being the work horse.”