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Off the beaten path: Hard Times Cafe

The next time you’re driving past the Utah State Prison on I-15, you may notice a small sign on the side of the road outside of the Olympus correctional facility that says: “Hard Times Cafe. Open to the public.”

I was a bit incredulous, so I did some research and discovered, that, in fact, there is a small cafe right outside the prison gates that is operated by inmates of the Utah State Prison. The majority of clientele are the employees at the prison, who have limited breakfast and lunch choices inside the prison. Obviously, Hard Times classifies as “off the beaten path,” so I had to stop by for lunch and check it out.

The cafe is located in a small portable unit, and there are four or five tables inside. The restaurant features daily specials of soups, salads, and sandwiches. I chose the grilled chicken cordon blue sandwich ($3.89), a side of onion rings ($1.39), and a mint brownie ($1.49).

The chicken sandwich was one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve eaten. The chicken was perfectly grilled, and—most importantly—was very moist and not tough in the least. The sandwich was topped with ham, swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. It was a really tasty sandwich, and I’ll definitely get it again.

The onion rings were pretty good. They were battered, rather than breaded, and had a nice crisp crunch. My only complaint is that they were a bit on the greasy side, even for onion rings.

The brownie was spectacular. Dense, moist, and loaded with chocolate and mint. A truly decadent experience.

Hard Times Cafe features breakfast items all day, and lunch begins at 11 am. The cafe closes for the day at 3 pm, and is open Monday through Thursday.

The cafe is also financially self-sustaining, meaning that it uses no taxpayer funds, and is a great way to give inmates vocational experience that will benefit them in the future. Stop by and check out the Hard Times Cafe! The prices are low, the staff is friendly, and the food is delicious.

Hard Times Cafe
14072 S Pony Express Road, Draper, UT 84020
(801) 576-7712

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3 thoughts on “Off the beaten path: Hard Times Cafe”

  1. Very interesting Ryan…

    Glad to see a place giving inmates a chance to learn skills to be successful once they are free! I know if I were in prison I would need something to do other than wilt away, and this is an excellent option. thanks for the information!


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