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Restaurant Happenings - August 2006

The Jailhouse Café -
“Good Enough for a Last Meal”

By Deirdre O. Keating

Jailhouse Café
on the corner of
Main and 100 South
Moab UT 84532

If you ate breakfast at the Jailhouse one hundred or so years ago, you would probably have chowed down on cornbread and beans or biscuits and gravy shoved through the bars of your cell. If the Sheriff’s wife was in a good mood, you might get bacon and eggs.

Times have changed.

Today, the Jailhouse Café is Moab’s premier breakfast eatery. Each dish is developed and approved by Will Petty, the owner of the café. Will has passed on to the staff his special flair for preparation and presentation. Every effort is directed toward making the Jailhouse Café not just another breakfast joint.

When Will bought the café in 1992, he saved one of Moab’s oldest buildings from wrack and ruin. Built as a residence 1885, in 1892 the county purchased the building and made it into a courthouse and jail until a new courthouse and jail were built in 1903. In the following years, it served again as a house, then a post office, a retail shop, business offices, and an art gallery.

The building sat empty during the 1980s and was falling apart until Will’s loving renovation in 1992. A small room off what is now the kitchen has two-foot thick adobe walls and was the jail cell. In those days, Moab needed only one cell. The adobe construction was common in Moab’s early days and is reasonably cool in the heat of the summer.

Will’s vision for the café was to do one thing and do it very well. That concept translated into a breakfast


Jailhouse Café

Blueberry Sour Cream Crepes

Bring to a boil: You will need

3 cups Blueberries 3 crepes
½ cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
½ cup Orange Juice

Take two (2) tablespoons of cornstarch and mix with ¼ - ½ cup cold water. You want the cornstarch mixture not to be too thin.
After the above ingredients comes to a boil, mix in cornstarch mixture and cook for approximately five minutes on low heat until thickened. Cool.

Mix together: ¾ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Powdered Sugar

Heat (3) crepes in skillet until warmed. Place blueberry mixture in the middle of each crepe and top with one tablespoon of sour cream mixture then roll up and place on plate. You can garnish with fresh blueberries if you wish.

*Note: not on Jailhouse Café menu - available on specials only.


restaurant that has no equal in Southeastern Utah. Each recipe goes through a rigorous review before it is offered to customers. Once a recipe is developed, it is again vetted for presentation – is it as good to look at as it is to eat? The answer to that must be “yes” because customers come back year after year and tell their friends to come to the Jailhouse. The food is consistently imaginative and extremely tasty.

And what food it is! Bacon and eggs, of course, for those who prefer a traditional breakfast. Omelets to die for. Heart-healthy Organic Wild Blueberry Granola, plain or topped with yogurt and fruit.

The specialties are unique: Old-fashioned Ginger Pancakes served with Dutch apple butter; the Jailhouse Chorizo Scramble of 3 eggs, seasoned potatoes, and chorizo topped with sour cream and fresh salsa. Southwestern Eggs Florentine is a vegetarian version of Eggs Benedict that drops the Canadian bacon, and adds spicy chipotle chiles. All food is freshly-prepared from only the finest ingredients.

What is breakfast without a good cup of coffee? The Jailhouse serves their own specially roasted blend of beans that will open your eyes and make you glad to see the morning.

The ambiance is also unparalleled. You may sit inside the historic building at cozy nicely-appointed tables, or enjoy the coolness of morning in the high desert relaxing on the covered terrace, taking in the beauty of the gardens and flowers. In cool weather, the terrace is heated, enticing you to stay for just one more cup of coffee.

Loretta Adkison is the dynamo who ensures that Will Petty’s vision stays on track. That vision includes not only excellent food, but excellent service as well. Their target is 8 minutes from order to table. Very likely you will wait longer for a table than for your food to arrive once you place your order. The café doesn’t take reservations, but your wait will seldom be longer than 20 minutes (and it’s worth it).

Turnover in most restaurants’ staff is notorious, but Loretta’s management style creates an atmosphere that also has staff coming back year after year. Staff continuity ensures that the quality carries over from one year to another. Attention is given to treating the staff with respect, making sure they are aware how important they are to the total restaurant experience.

At the Jailhouse Café, you’re treated as a valued customer whose dining experience deserves the best food and service possible. Once you’ve had breakfast there, you’ll be glad that Will Petty’s vision has come to life at the Jailhouse Café.

The Jailhouse Café is located on the corner of Main and 100 South and is open from 7:00am to noon every day.

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