facebook-pixel

Cowan’s Cafe still serving up American classics after nearly 90 years

The restaurant is a staple of tiny Duchesne, Utah

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cowan's Cafe in Duchesne, Utah has been a local staple since 1933.

Editor’s note • This article is part of 150 Things To Do, a reporting project and newsletter exploring the best that Utah has to offer. Click here to sign up for the 150 Things weekly newsletter.

Restaurants come and go in Duchesne, Utah, but Cowan’s Cafe has been a staple of the community since 1933.

Cindy Cowan and her husband, Kelly Cowan, have owned Cowan’s Cafe since 1991, but it passed through several generations of their family prior to that.

Duchesne resident Marvel Moore opened a cafe in 1931 but was later forced to sell it due to the Great Depression.

Reed and Sarah Cowan purchased the restaurant in 1933 and named it Cowan’s Cafe.

From there, it passed down through a number of Cowan family members until Cindy and Kelly Cowan took over.

| Courtesy Cowan's Cafe in Duchesne has been serving old-fashioned breakfasts and classic hamburgers for generations.

Cowan’s Cafe has seen its fair share of changes over the decades, Cindy said. At one time, it was open 24 hours; at another, the restaurant used formal place settings with white tablecloths and napkins.

Now, the restaurant focuses on fast, fresh, high-quality food, Cindy said. Just like in its earliest days, the menu is largely made up of traditional American comfort food such as chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and French fries, and a variety of burgers.

Menu favorites include the San Francisco Burger (a hamburger with Swiss cheese, ranch dressing, lettuce and tomato on grilled sourdough bread) and the Philly Beef and Swiss sandwich, Cindy said.

Breakfast is “just good old-fashioned bacon and pancakes,” she added, while their fish and chips are made from halibut rather than cod.

“There is no compromise. I want [our food] good and fresh,” she said.

Running a restaurant, especially in a small town, certainly isn’t without its challenges. Cindy said they get most of their business in the summer. Come winter, she and Kelly have to cut back on staff as customers dwindle.

But the challenges are well worth the rewards to them. Cindy said Cowan’s is “where all the coffee drinkers come in,” so she and Kelly get to know their regular customers well.

Those regulars sustained Cowan’s with to-go orders when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, so much so that Cindy said they only lost 20% of their revenue for the year.

“(We) see them every day,” she said. “You get to know their stories.”

Editor’s note • 150 Things To Do is a reporting project and weekly newsletter made possible by the generous support of the Utah Office of Tourism. Sign up for the 150 Things newsletter here.

(Kaitlyn Bancroft | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cowan's Cafe in Duchesne, Utah has been a local staple since 1933.


Editor’s note • 150 Things To Do is a reporting project and weekly newsletter made possible by the generous support of the Utah Office of Tourism. Sign up for the 150 Things newsletter here.

Comments:  (0)
Return to Story