former aerospace engineer and a former nightclub manager
might seem an odd couple to take over an historic, high-class
dinner house in rural Utah, yet John and Laurie Clayton
have not only made it work for them personally, theyve
made a successful go of it at The Sunset Grill.
High on the northeast hill with possibly the widest and
longest view of the Moab Valley and beyond, Sunset Grill
diners often frequent the restaurant first for its view
and its history. Laurie says its good food that keeps locals
and visitors coming back, and thats what she makes
her first objective in running a restaurant.
The reason why we are successful is we didnt
have a restaurant background to say this is how its
done. We came here with a customers point of
view, Laurie said. How would we want it to be
if we were the customer.
Claytons came to Moab in 1993 from Salt Lake City. John
holds an engineering degree and was building rockets and
Laurie was managing a nightclub when they met. They both
hail originally from the East Coast John from Philadelphia
and Laurie from Erie, Pennsylvania. They are raising three
children in Moab and are active in youth sports. John teaches
computer technology at Grand County High School and Laurie
is president of the board for Seekhaven Family Resources.
Since they moved to Moab, The Claytons have been joined
by family Lauries three sisters and her mother.
We have a low employee turnover and have a lot of
family people here, John said. The Sunset Grill is
open year-round and employs 45 people; chefs, bakers, wait
staff. The restaurant is open from 5 to 8 p.m. during the
winter months and 5 to 10 p.m. during the spring, summer
and fall. In addition to indoor and patio dining, The Sunset
Grill offers catering, will do wedding parties, bus tours
and private parties. The weekend of the Olympic Torch Relay
is one weekend the Claytons will be open on Sunday.
We have tickets to the Olympics so well be up
north, John said. One of his waiters, Steve Frederick,
will be in Moab, running with The Torch. Hes
been with the restaurant the longest, John said, since
We have a lot of great people working here, a lot
of students too. When we first got here we hired several
chefs to help us on the cooking end. I think Lauries
management experience and my organizational skills have
helped us make this restaurant successful.
John said he keeps in touch with Charlie Steen, the legendary
Moab rags to riches uranium boom king who built what is
now the Sunset Grill as his home after striking it rich
in the 1950s. Charlie Steens youngest son, Mark Steen,
brought Charlie to Moab for a visit early in 2000.
We like the history of this place, we like the Charlie
Steen story and we keep in touch with him, John said.
For dinner information and reservations, call The Sunset
Grill at 435-259-5432.
4 - 8 oz Boneless-breast of Chicken
1 cup of Italian Bread crumbs
1 ½ cup of Marinara
1 cup of grated Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Sage, Basil, Salt, & Pepper (add to bread
1) Warm marinara in a saucepan.
2) Pre heat oven to 375F
3) Heat (medium-high) a lightly oiled saute (frying)
4) Coat chicken with Italian Bread crumbs.
5) Place chicken into Saute pan, skin side down
until golden brown
6) In pan, turn over chicken and remove pan from
7) Top with Marinara, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
8) Add small amount (1/8 cup) of white wine or water
9) Place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cooking Time will depend
on amount of chicken and its thickness. Chicken is
usually done when all the cheese has melted over the
chicken. Serve with rice or pasta and fresh vegetables.
Makes 4 servings
John Clayton offers this recipe, Chicken
Sophia, because the ingredients are available locally and
it is the restaurants most popular chicken entrée.
its named after Sophia Loren, John says.
Its an Italian dish and is beautiful.
Three other Sunset Grill dishes are named for John and Laurie
Claytons children, Nicholas, Olivia and Thomas. They
are Pork Nicholas; a lobster and shrimp pasta dish, The
Olivia; and a Tommy T-Bone.