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Restaurant Happenings  February 2003
Recipes will return next month.

Smitty’s Steakhouse -
a mainstay for locals, a treat for tourists!

The rigors of routine make for hometown stability.
Carrie Mossien

Everybody has to eat, winter, summer … tourists or no. And for many, eating out is routine as tucking in a toddler. At Smitty’s Golden Steak Restaurant, it can be just as gratifying.

John and Jana Smith know this as well as anyone. Jana hears the murmurs when a regular coffee drinker is a no-show one morning. One of his or her counter buddies is sure to call and find out why. They are family.

“We have three different kinds of coffee cups because people have their favorites,” Jana says. “We know who wants which cup.”

This is small town intimacy.

The Smith’s have owned this restaurant since February 1998 and carry on a 40-year tradition of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round. Business may slow down a bit during the winter months, but the Smiths still employ 24 staff, growing to about 35 in the spring. The restaurant is family owned and operated, with all three of the Smith siblings taking their turn in helping out.

“Part of the whole history of the restaurant is the counter and the coffee drinkers,” Jana says. On an average day Jana addresses most of her customers by first name, and their children, too. She probably knows their parents.

Both John and Jana grew up in Moab – lifelong residents whose adult children still live in town as well. They got into the restaurant business when Jana worked as an employee of Smitty’s Golden Steak and was offered a management position. From there came eventual ownership of the restaurant.
“ It just sort of happened,” Jana said.

Smitty’s Restaurant is famous for two things: the best steaks available, breakfast lunch or dinner, and mouth-watering cinnamon rolls. And while regular customers may know these well, Jana said the restaurant gets a lion’s share of repeat tourist trade for the same reasons.

“Tourists come year after year just to get our cinnamon rolls,” Jana says. “And we have the best coffee in town.”

Reliable and lengthy hours of operation probably account for much of the restaurant’s success. Open at 6 a.m. every morning, early bird visitors and locals can enjoy any staple café breakfast, including an omelet, steak and eggs, or the very popular country fried steak and eggs. Lunches offer traditional American fare, and every night there is a dinner special.

“ Our steak special nights, Wednesday and Friday, are very popular,” Jana said. “And we have prime rib on the weekend.”

The Smiths have focused on good food and a simple décor to offer a comfortable and satisfying dining experience. They solicited historical photographs from the Dan O’Laurie Museum and the Essie White and Ray Tibbetts collections to give the restaurant a realistic flavor of the Moab area. Again catering to a wide-ranging clientele, locals have the comfort of familiarity – and even a little notoriety – and tourists have their interests piqued and satisfied at the same time.

Smitty’s Golden Steak offers high-quality catering services as well. Located at 540 S. Main, the restaurant is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the winter months, and until 10 p.m. spring, summer and fall. All menu items are available to take out. They can be reached at 259-4848.

“Local customers have been very good to us,” Jana concedes. And their reward?

“Good food and friendly smiles.”

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