November 01, 2017

A huge scaly newcomer made its way to Salt Lake City’s west side on Halloween

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Photos courtesy of the Cardenas Family

Owners of the Red Iguana, Bill Coker and Lucy Cardenas have commissioned a large iguana art piece that they named Xochitonal after the mythical Aztec guardian of the underworld. After two years in the making by Utah artist Stephen Kesler, this 12 ½-foot tall, 1,000-pound sculpture now resides in the parking lot behind the Red Iguana 2 restaurant at 866 W. South Temple.

The impressive sculpture was unveiled before a group of employees, friends and west side community members on October 31. The unveiling commemorated 50-plus years of the Cardenas Family owning restaurants in Salt Lake City. “To be operating continuously in this environment requires community and people who care about us. We are really appreciative of that [support] and this is a reflection of how we feel about that,” said Coker.

Coker invited local community leaders whose “personal sacrifices are often unrecognized” to participate in the unveiling. “We are standing on their shoulders and in their shadows,” said Coker.

As a symbolic recognition of family, some of the ashes of Lucy’s beloved brother Ramon Cardenas Jr. and a photo of her parents are encased in the belly of Xochitonal.