for a good pub to have a cold beer? How about pizza tonight?
Or are you thinking of a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich?
Maybe dining on Shrimp Scampi over a bottle of wine sounds
good. If any of these ideas tempt you, I have an answer.
I know a great little restaurant that’s got good food
and a really warm ambiance and it’s probably not far
from where you’re sitting skimming this article. Pop
on down to Poplar Place. This eatery offers everything a
person wants in casual dining and that‘s resulting
in a booming business for Cindy and Jody Cheney, owners
and managers of Poplar Place. This restaurant is doing so
well, it should really have a “u” in the middle
of its first name.
It’s not hard to guess why people who walk by want
to pop on in. It’s not just the cute signs Alisha,
the Cheney’s nine-year old daughter, paints and puts
up outside the restaurant’s entrance. Cindy and Jody
are down-to-earth people who have been on and off in the
food industry most of their adult lives and they know what
pleases diners and keeps them coming back through the front
Pizza is the first enticement. Poplar Place is known for
their pies and offers a variety of vegetable and meat toppings
(think roast garlic, fresh basil, teriyaki chicken and a
blend of crab and white fish called surimi in addition to
traditional pizza ingredients like olives, spinach, sausage
and pepperoni). The crispy crust is home-made daily as are
the Savory Tomato and the Creamy Alfredo Sauces. The menu
invites the diner to “Make a statement. Be creative.
Let your imagination run wild as you develop your own artistic
If that type of creative license is too daunting when ordering
a pizza, there’s a selection of eleven specialty pizzas.
They vary widely in flavor so it’s hard to imagine
not finding one that will please everyone at the table.
The possibilities include the Pizza Diablo with southwestern
Marinara sauce, sausage, spicy chicken and green chile,
the Hawaiian Stylin’ which sports Canadian Bacon,
teriyaki chicken and pineapple on alfredo sauce, and the
Jamaican Spice featuring diced sausage or southwestern chicken,
onion, and green pepper on their “spicy but flavor-loaded
Pizza is the most popular draw at Poplar, and has led to
out-of-town customers asking the Cheneys to move their restaurant
as far east as Maine and Florida because, as Cindy puts
it, “they wish they had something like this in their
hometown.” The rest of the menu, however, is just
as tantalizing. The food is home-made from scratch every
day so all the dishes are fresh and consistent in flavor.
Poplar Place offers traditional Italian and Mexican dishes
like lasagna, chicken Parmesan, tacos and quesadillas. Two
customer favorites are the Shrimp Scampi, succulent shrimp
sauteed in garlic butter sauce served over a bed of linguine,
and the Pork Verde Burrito, pork in a spicy Verde sauce
rolled in a flour tortilla. Another aspect of the menu that
keeps the restaurant hopping at lunch time are the Soups
Don’t let the name of the Cabbage Chowder, a recipe
that Jody and Cindy created, discourage you from digging
into the delicious flavor of this creamy soup filled with
bits of tasty sausage. The Chowder is always on the menu
along with a second soup that changes daily and can be White
Chile, Tomato and Basil, Chicken Noodle, Southwest Turkey
or another home-made creation. The perfect accompaniment
to the soup is one of Poplar Place’s hearty sandwiches.
The menu lists a selection of five, hot and cold, and all
of which are served with a side salad. Every day they offer
a lunch special which often features something not regularly
listed on the menu.
Another special the Cheneys offer that has won acclaim is
the Prime Rib on Friday and Saturday evenings. Ending the
week with dinner at Poplar’s is particularly appealing
since live music plays through dinnertime. The Cheneys manage
to blend a family atmosphere with the pleasures of leisurely
The interior of the restaurant is made mostly of wood carved
into southwestern motifs. The upper mezzanine balcony looks
down onto the first floor giving the adobe structure, one
of the oldest buildings in Moab, a Spanish-Mexican atmosphere.
The tile mosaic decorating the bar enhances the south-of-the-border
appeal while the wrought iron art depicting local legends
such as Kokopelli reminds diners of their locale. The decor
over the bar, however, crosses regional lines and reflects
one of Jody’s passions. Nascar emblems, signed autographs
and model cars adorn the wall.
Amid the tastefully arrayed race car memorabilia are four
scorched beer bottles. They are all that remain from a serious
fire that gutted the restaurant in 1989. The building has
an interesting history which reflects the food process.
Built in 1885, the structure was used for sundry purposes,
including a church and a brothel according to local rumors,
until it became a stone grinding service for wheat and oats.
In the fifties, it turned into a grocery store and a decade
later into a tavern. In 1972, the original Poplar Place
opened. The Cheneys didn’t acquire the restaurant
until September of 2002 although they had worked there for
the previous owner since 1995.
For those familiar with the restaurant prior to the Cheneys
owning it, it’s worth reacquainting yourself with
it under their care. They maintain a personally high standard
for their operation and have given Poplar Place a warm,
personal touch that makes it a popular place to eat good
food in a pleasant environment.
The Poplar Place Restaurant & Pub
is located at 100 N. Main Street and can be reached at 259-6018.
They are open every day of the week from 11a.m. ‘til
9 or 10 p.m. (depending on business). Entrees range in price
from $6.50 to $13.75.
Recipe of the Month
2 lbs. dried great northern beans
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 1/2 quarts chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, mined
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves,
2 cans (4 oz. each) chopped green chili
Place beans in a saucepan covered
with water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat. Soak for 1 hour, drain and rinse.
In an 8 quart Dutch oven, saute onion in oil until
tender. Combine seasonings and add half to Dutch
oven. Saute for 1 minute. Add beans, broth and
garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer
for 2 hours. Coat chicken with remaining seasoning
mixture and bake until chicken is done at 350°
for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken
and green chili to bean mixture and simmer 1 1/2
to 2 hours. Enjoy!