It may have opened three months ago but Cubby’s Chicago Beef is already making a big impact on the Provo food scene with quirky decor and an extensive vegetarian menu, especially for a beef house.
Cubby’s, located at 1258 State St. in Provo, is easily recognized by its light-up sign hanging outside. Its owner, Cubby James, set out to make a restaurant appealing to both men and women through healthy menu options, something atypical for Chicago beef sandwich places.
“I didn’t want to make a niche restaurant or a beef house where only guys want to hang out,” James said.
To accomplish his goal, James designed a menu that integrates unique vegetable combinations in his sandwiches and vegetarian salads. He also decorated his restaurant with original artwork and a rustic-downtown vibe.
Chicago beef is not known for its health benefits but Cubby’s worked to counteract beef’s reputation with organic produce.
James, a California born Chicago native, derived the recipe from one of his favorite beef sandwich places while living in Illinois. He noted the key was using “fresh ingredients.”
While James was setting up his restaurant, he reunited with an old college acquaintance who owns a local farm. The friendly partnership provides Cubby’s with the organic produce it needs for its salads and sandwiches.
“We use all local ingredients so you get more nutrients and more flavor,” James said. “It’s not just organic. We could be organic but have our stuff shipped to us for days on a truck from California.”
Greg Bodin, a Cubby’s employee, has noticed their strategy to attract both genders appears to be working.
“We have the beef for the men and the salads for the women,” said Bodin. “A lot of guys are liking the salads too though.”
This approach to freshness brings a balance between the practicality of the daily grind and the health craze sweeping the nation.
Bodin said James is already seeing enough excitement to think toward future locations.
“He wants to open a new location even in the next several months,” said Bodin. “He’s definitely got a fire.”
Caitlin Mitchell, a BYU student studying American and Spanish studies, has dined at their first location twice and brought her family back the second time.
“I’m from Chicago and what I miss most is the food,” Mitchell said. “When I go to eat with my family we all order different things so we can all share. I tried a lot of things at Cubby’s and they’re all good.”
The local Chicago beef house is seeing a lot of activity so far. It is a good sign their strategy is working. The restaurant is often packed, especially at lunch hour.
“We see a lot of couples here,” Bodin said. “I think women like the design of the restaurant and men like the three big screen playing SportsCenter.”