It’s not often in Moab that you get to meet someone who has worked for 20 years as a waitress on Amtrak Railways.
Julie Fox’s is a unique story. A story that led her from her roots in Salt Lake and across the country from Los Angeles to New York City before depositing her in Moab 25 years ago. And that remarkable life is clearly reflected in everything from the menu, to the decorations, to the garden of her restaurant, Eklecticafe.
Moab was a very different place than it is today when Fox arrived.
“I arrived in the uranium bust, all the mines were closed and the kids were only going to school three or four days a week because the city didn’t have enough money,” Fox said. Things began improving for the town economy as more visitors started coming through Moab. In 1996 she decided to open a coffee and collectables shop.
The building on North Main was the old Schaeffer House, a building with quite a history. The Schaeffer House was originally constructed in 1930 and has had a life as varied as Fox’s. In addition to the many families that called the building home, it has housed a fabric shop, a gun store and a farmer’s market, just to name a few.
Three years after she opened Eklectica’s doors, Fox decided that there wasn’t enough money in collectables. The Schaeffer House was transformed again, this time to accommodate the next incarnation of Eklectica: Eklecticafe.
The 8-foot by 12-foot bedroom was converted into a kitchen. With the help of her first cook Lee Truesdell, Fox concocted a menu that included American comfort food and vegetarian fare. Almost all of it is made from scratch.
“Lots of the dishes were my personal favorites. Through the years we have had several great prep cooks and each one had a big effect on the menu,” Fox said.
The transition worked and the restaurant has steadily grown since.
“The whole thing has evolved in response to the customers,” Fox said.
She believes the keys to Eklecticafe’s success are the quirky atmosphere, the garden and that, “the food we put out is consistently good, and that’s hard (to do).”
Having options on the menu for all types of eaters, from vegetarians, to vegans, to people who don’t eat gluten is also important to Eklecticafe.
“With so many people with food allergies it’s nice to be able to accommodate all of them,” Angie Settle, a manager at the café said. “We make everything by hand when you order it so we are super amendable.”
Fox has also pushed hard to get as much of her food as possible from local sources. The café has partnered with Castle Valley Farms for the last eight years for their produce. The coffee that Ekleticafe serves is shade-grown, fair trade and roasted by Ibis in Logan.
As anyone who has been in Eklecticafe can tell you, jewelry is a big part of the café. “All the tables are display cases,” Fox said.
The jewelry is chosen by Fox and comes mostly from local suppliers and from Turkey, a country Fox is dying to visit.
The café, unlike some restaurants in Moab, stays open all year round.
“The challenge is how do you get through the winter, how do you make that work for you rather than against you,” Fox said.
Her solution? Local support.
“We enjoy the down time with the locals. We can sit and chat with them. We don’t have to rush around,” Settle said.
And that’s what Fox loves most about doing what she does; the people.
“I love the fact that the general public is so much fun. I get to interact with them and it reaffirms my feeling that 99.9 percent of people are just great folks,” Fox said.