New convention center offers food, views

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The Utah Valley Convention Center not only has a state-of-the-art building, but its concession stand offers home cut french fries — but freshly prepared food is only part of the draw for this new hosting venue.

Michael Smith, director of food and beverage for the convention center, worked closely with Executive Chef Scott Compton to create signature dishes that will be offered as part of the convention center’s in-house catering service and the Center Street Cafe menu.

“Scott has a way of adding flair that you just don’t see in many places,” Smith said.

President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Joel Racker, said the quality and service of the convention center is not like anything Provo has seen before.

“We can have a pretty building, but it’ll be for not if we don’t have the quality behind it,” Racker said.

The building design incorporates the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The walls, ceilings and floors mimic the slope of the mountains as they wave at oblique angles.

On the main floor is the Center Street Cafe, a soup and sandwich bistro open daily. The exhibit hall on the main floor offers gourmet concessions and plenty of space for large groups.

The second level houses a large ballroom. The size of the ballroom can be adjusted by partitions to fit specific group’s needs. The third floor contains a meeting space with several conference rooms, a board room and an outdoor terrace.

According to Tennille Wanner, Utah Valley Convention Center director of sales and marketing, the convention center has successfully hosted several community events already.

Utah County Commissioner Larry Ellertson said the $40 million building has been in the works for five to six years and will benefit the economy of Utah County.

“We hope that when people start to come here that they’ll come back for vacations and any other meetings and that that will bode well for the overall economy,” Ellertson said. “You can look at it as a cost or as an investment. I choose to view it as an investment which then brings additional return to the area, and we’re optimistic that that’s what will happen.”

Danny Wheeler, general manger of the convention center and former BYU grad, said the convention center has already hired over 100 employees and is working with local universities through their parent company, Global Spectrum, to hire interns interested in the field of hospitality.

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