Deep in the heart of American culture is a culinary tradition that remains both nostalgic and forever-relevant—the diner. Part lunch counter, part breakfast café, diners are reliable mainstays of reliable menus. But, above all, diners have steadfastly remained the iconic American eatery because of the warm welcome and personal service expected the moment you walk inside one of their unassuming doors.
This sense of comfort is more than a little present at The Coffee Shop, downtown Salt Lake City’s family-favorite diner. Still serving the classic dishes loved by the community for generations, from Apple Pie to Hot Turkey Sandwiches, The Coffee Shop is at the heart of Little America’s traditions. Coming here feels like coming home, for good reason. Though The Coffee Shop has a long and storied history, full of change and growth, the core of its welcoming identity has always remained the same.
From Wyoming, with Love
When Carol and Earl Holding, a young couple running an orchard business out of northern Utah, were invited by S.M. Covey, the founder of the original Little America, to take on management of the property, they jumped on board and moved their lives up to the busy travel center and hotel off the I-80 in western Wyoming. As they stepped into any and all roles in the business, Carol particularly enjoyed waiting on tables in the bustling Coffee Shop. She loved chatting with the customers and exchanging stories with the many truck drivers just passing through.
A center of good, made-from-scratch meals and even better company, The Coffee Shop was conceptually replicated at the “New” Little America in Salt Lake City, which the Holdings eventually took on ownership of, along with the original travel hotel in Wyoming. In Salt Lake, The Coffee Shop quickly became a central part of the community, and remains a staple of the downtown food scene for locals and visitors alike.
All Things Old & New
In November 2013, The Coffee Shop re-opened its doors after a six-month long renovation. The old space was gutted down to the concrete and rebuilt from the outside walls in. Remnants of the original can be spotted throughout—from the booths and tables to the charming view of Main Street—but the overall outcome was meant to reintroduce the restaurant in way that honors its place in the tradition of American diners. “We tried to make all this feel old-school,” said Ed Box, Little America’s general manager at the time. “People feel so connected to this place—like it’s theirs. So we really worried about this, but everybody has raved about it.”
For longstanding fans, it’s easy to rave about The Coffee Shop of today. Not only are all the classic items still on the menu, new and seasonal dishes are always being added to the well-loved line-up. The new dining room is light and warm and—the space’s centerpiece—the lunch counter is a beautiful representation of The Coffee Shop’s place in a long line of iconic American lunch counter institutions.
Best of all, the renovated Coffee Shop prominently features several blown-up photographs of the original hot spot. These photos remind guests of the history of the warm hospitality that still awaits guests with every visit to The Coffee Shop still today.
The Coffee Shop’s Famous Bran Muffin Recipe
Ingredients: 1 ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, 10oz. golden raisins, ¾ cup bran flakes, 1 tbsp baking soda, 3 large eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup = 2 tbsp whole milk, 4 oz chopped dates, 2 oz melted butter, 2 ¼ cup chopped walnuts, pinch of salt
For the muffin glaze: 7 ½ oz Crisco shortening, ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ oz all-purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp maple extract, 2 tbsp hot water
Directions: Preheat oven to 380 degrees. In a large bowl, blend all the bran muffin ingredients, except the walnuts, and set aside. In a separate bowl, blend all the glaze sauce ingredients to form a smooth paste. Brush the glaze sauce on the inside of the pan in each muffin cup. Place 1 oz of chopped walnuts in the pan at the bottom of each muffin cup and top with muffin mix. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 380 degrees or until knife comes out clean. Serve muffins warm.
Yields 1 ½ Dozen Muffins & 1 ½ Cups Glaze
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