Tucked away on State Street in Orem is a local secret, Joe’s Cafe, serving up comfort food and Southern hospitality from Joe himself.
Joe Hicks is originally from Houston, and has a personality to match. His friendly attitude and down-home cooking make Joe’s a local favorite. Guests at Joe’s can expect to leave with a full stomach and a new friend in the owner.
Hicks makes biscuits and gravy, grits, pancakes, burgers, tuna melts and more. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch all day. Ask Hicks what’s good, and he’ll tell you, “Everything that’s printed.”
Hicks is the baby of his family, with 10 brothers and sisters. His parents died at a young age, so his brothers and sisters raised him.
“I had a lot of mommies and daddies telling me every which way,” Hicks said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world though.”
Hicks was working as a car salesman in 2008 when the economy tanked, and he didn’t know what to do to support his family. His brother decided to help him start his own cafe. Hicks worked in restaurants his whole life, and his siblings knew he could be successful. Hicks’ brother told him to find a place and sent the money to get him started on the right foot.
“I couldn’t take care of me, my wife, my kids, my family, so my oldest brother intervened and threw me a life vest because I was about to drown,” Hicks said.
Hicks said he looked for a place where he wouldn’t have a big overhead, something smaller that he could run on his own. Joe’s opened up in Orem in August 2009 and has been a blessing for Hicks and his family. His wife Ana and two young daughters help out in the cafe.
“Cooking is my very first love,” Hicks said. “You put me in the kitchen, give me a couple of pots and a spoon. … I’m going to make you a master meal.”
Hicks loves interacting with customers and making it a place people want to come back to. The portions are huge, and customers can expect to spend about $5–$10 per person.
“People notice when you have quality product like good, big, fat bacon and decent portions,” Hicks said. “When they want a to-go box, people remember that.”
Hicks credits his loyal customers with spreading the word and making it a local favorite.
“I haven’t really done any kind of real advertising; it’s all word of mouth,” Hicks said. “Yelp, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon all have me really highly rated. I get well over a third of my business off the Internet.
Senior Erika Hoffmeier from Damascus, MD, loves the Southern hospitality she found at Joe’s.
“(Joe) has such a great personality,” Hoffmeier said. “I felt like I was a regular. It’s just got the feel of a soulful, Southern restaurant. I felt like I was in the South.”
Joe’s Cafe is open Monday–Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sundays and is located at 1126 S. State St. in Orem, across from University Mall.