Restaurant Reveal: Love of cooking, food and family extends to next generation
Cafe Terigo is located at 424 Main Street and serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and dinner seven days a week from 5:30 p.m. For more information, contact them at 435-645-9555 or cafeterigo.com.
For the past 30 years, family-run Cafe Terigo has been a successful staple on Main Street, has gained recognition in broadcast and print media, and enticed thousands with its outdoor patio. And it has also been the source of a local, if short-lived, urban legend.
“Women who were pregnant and overdue would come in and order the spinach salad with balsamic dressing,” said owner and executive chef Ed Axtell. “For a (couple) years, every so often someone came in and asked, ‘Can I have that spinach salad again? I’m way overdue and I want to have this baby!’”
The recipe has changed since then, and the stories have faded, but the restaurant continues to thrive with the help of a new generation of Axtells.
“[The restaurant] is like an extension of our family. It’s like we live here almost; we’re here so much. Our kids have all grown up here,” Ed said.
While two daughters have moved away from Park City, son Travis Axtell opened Purple Sage restaurant two doors down, and daughter Carly Axtell works side-by-side with her father in the kitchen as sous chef.
“I was four when the restaurant opened. I don’t remember ever not being here,” Carly said.
After college, Carly returned to work at the family restaurant.
“I love working with my parents. They’re easy to get along with. And my brother’s restaurant is so close, we can help each other,” she said. “I think that we’re all so used to working together, we really work well as a team.”
The Axtells admit that owning and operating a successful restaurant in Park City for nearly 30 years makes Cafe Terigo more than a family business.
“It’s a lifestyle,” Ed said. “It’s not a profession where you put in 9 to 5, and you’re done. A lot of years, I’ve worked from Christmas until the resorts closed, every day. And they’re 10-, 12-hour days… You have to be really committed.”
When asked if he ever wanted a 9-to-5 job, Ed shook his head.
“You would go nuts,” Carly said to him. “He can’t sit still that long.”
Ed agreed. “We enjoy it. It’s something we always wanted to do and it’s not easy… and I don’t know what else I would do.”
Just like returning home, the menu holds many dishes customers can count on seeing year after year. The herb breaded Utah trout has been a favorite for decades, as has the smoked chicken fettuccine, although these days, the noodles are made fresh in-house. The dessert menu holds a family favorite as well.
“When we started, we had some extra French bread and my wife Debbie came up with a recipe for bread pudding, and we’ve been making that ever since we started. In fact, she tells people she won’t give the recipe out because that’s how she paid for her kids to go to college,” Ed said.
The family continues to find new ideas to incorporate into the restaurant as well.
“When we travel, we always try to find the highest-rated restaurants and see what they’re doing,” Ed said.
Going out and exploring other restaurants is crucial to making Cafe Terigo a success, Ed said.
“It’s really important you’ve tasted enough things that you know if something’s wrong,” he explained. “And if you’ve never eaten at a five-star restaurant, you wouldn’t know what really, really good service is.
“We have to soak up more experiences so we can pass it on to our customers.”
Such experiences have inspired Carly to extend the menu.
“We’re adding a lot more local food, and we always try to get as fresh of ingredients as possible,” she said. House-made pastas, a house-made ricotta cheese appetizer, and an avocado herb tartine are among the newer additions.
“I always say that I think you should do simple food really, really well,” she added.
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A Utah Symphony woodwind trio will perform an intimate Deer Valley Music Festival chamber concert Monday at Susan Swartz Studios.