Black-owned Orem cafe featured by NBA during All-Star Game Weekend

This video gives an inside look at Joe’s Cafe located in Orem off State Street. Owner of Joe’s Cafe, Joe Hicks, opened his restaurant in 2009. (Sydni Merrill)

Joe’s Cafe is a Utah County breakfast spot recently featured by the National Basketball Association and Utah Jazz.

Joe Hicks, a Texas native and owner of Joe’s Cafe, has brought his Southern flair to Orem since 2009. Hicks said he was ecstatic to be chosen as one of the 10 Utah Black-owned businesses that would be featured.

Stacy Bernal, diversity, equity and inclusion manager of the Utah Jazz, reached out to Hicks to inform him that his restaurant was chosen. The feature was promoted by the NBA as part of Black History Month and in conjunction with the NBA All-Star Game Weekend celebrations. 

Bernal said the Utah Jazz was thrilled to feature Joe’s Cafe.

“When we got the request from the NBA, we created a small committee of Black employees at the Jazz and asked everyone who were some of their favorite Black-owned restaurants. Joe’s Cafe rose to the top of the list so we knew he had to be included,” Bernal said.

Hicks and his wife, Anousone Hicks, hope the extra media coverage and mentions on the NBA app and social channels from this feature will further increase business. 

“We’re just really really happy that people are out there thinking about us and nominating us for that,” Anousone Hicks said.  

The Hicks family said they serve the best biscuits and gravy in Utah. The menu includes typical breakfast and lunch foods from waffles to burgers, including Southern classics like grits and Joe’s personal favorite item on the menu, their breakfast sandwich. 

Bacon, sausage, egg, cheese and fresh avocado is served on toast in the breakfast sandwich at Joe’s Cafe. The breakfast sandwich is Joe’s favorite item on the menu. (Sydni Merrill)

Prior to opening his own restaurant, Joe Hicks had worked in various kitchens, so when he moved to Salt Lake County he started cooking at a Denny’s. Soon his flair and food brought him together with his wife, who waited tables at the same Denny’s while attending the University of Utah.

“Cooking is my passion, but it’s my knowledge too,” Joe Hicks said.

Joe Hick’s experience and time taught him what he wanted to do to make his own place special, from the customer service to the food and the portion sizing.

“I took all the different ideas from all the places I’ve cooked and upgraded all my recipes to the max. You can go get a lot of my things at other places but you can’t get it as good as mine. I take real real pride in making sure I have the best ingredients,” Joe Hicks said.

Joe Hicks said he is thankful for his business that has brought him and his family so much good.

“I ain’t trying to get rich. I just want to take care of my family. I give all my credit to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to my wife,” Joe Hicks said.

Joe and Anousone Hicks have been married for more than 20 years and have two daughters. 

The Hicks family stands for a family photo during Christmas 2022. From left to right is Anousone Hicks, Kamryn Hicks, Joe Hicks and Raja Hicks. (Photo Courtesy of Joe Hicks)

However, Joe Hicks does not just take care of his family, he takes care of his community too. His arms are open wide to any and all that step through the doors of his cafe. It is a priority for the entire Joe’s Cafe family that they create a warm, welcoming and friendly Southern experience.

“You don’t have to go to the South. Here, the South is ready now,” Joe Hicks said.

The walls of Joe’s Cafe feature pictures of Joe Hicks with his family, friends and customers. In 2012, Joe’s Cafe moved from posting these photos to their walls to posting to their Instagram page.

Last year, Anousone Hicks came on full-time at Joe’s Cafe as her husband took steps toward retirement. Customers who want to meet Joe or take photos with him should look for him in the cafe on Saturdays.

“Saturday is picture day and good eatin’ day,” Hicks said.

Heidi Perry and Steve Diaz, Pleasant Grove residents, love coming to Joe’s Cafe, especially on Saturdays to see Joe Hicks. They said that although the food is delicious, they keep coming back to see him.

Perry described how she came into Joe’s Cafe with her son one morning.

“My son is definitely a meat and potatoes man, and Joe told him, ‘No baby, you can’t have the hash browns. If you come into my restaurant you got to have the grits.’ So we ordered the grits, and my son never went back to hash browns,” Perry said.

Heidi Perry and Steve Diaz sit in Joe’s Cafe after finishing their breakfast. Diaz loves Joe’s grits and described them as sweet enough that he could eat them all his life. (Sydni Merrill)

Jose Campos has been coming back to Joe’s Cafe for five years, but for him it feels like forever. Campus says he has become friends with Joe Hicks over the years and loves coming back to catch up.

“Every time I come in I order the steak and eggs. It’s delicious,” Campos said.

Joe’s Cafe is located at 1126 S State St, Orem, UT 84097 and takes orders online through their website.

Posters hang on the wall of Joe’s Cafe that read, “Who Loves Ya? Joe’s Cafe.” Art depicting Joe Hicks hangs below. The rest of Joe’s Cafe is covered in pictures taken of Joe with his friends, family and customers. (Sydni Merrill)
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