‘It’s what I do’: Cedar City cafe owner making a comeback on south side of town

CEDAR CITY — The crew at Amber Kay’s Cafe was excited to get back to work in Cedar City. While a bit shy and reserved, they opened up to Cedar City News about the popular restaurant in the historic downtown that closed almost one year ago.

The former location of Amber Kay’s Cafe on north Main Street in Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 31, 2023 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George / Cedar City News

Amber Hutchinson felt like she was home after moving to Southern Utah from Nebraska more than 12 years ago. During those first years, she was a waitress at the former Main Street Grill.

“When the old owner told us he wasn’t able to remain open, I got with the building owner and told him, I think I can do this,” she said.

Hutchinson and her crew took over and Amber Kay’s Cafe opened in 2021. When the historic building on Main Street changed ownership, she was once again left without a kitchen.

“We have been keeping alive doing some catering; we also have a food truck,” she said. “I have only lost one of my original crew members.”

Nick Arteaga said the last 10 months have been a struggle, and all employees present nodded in agreement. Local residents who stop by and offer encouragement have helped the team immensely.

“A lot of the time, you feel like giving up. I might have to get another job; how am I going to survive?” Arteaga said. “Those people who come by with their smiles, they want to help us out … it keeps us going.”

Kieko Silberstein, Nick Arteaga, Sarah Wind, Brook Brower and Brixton Castenada, James Couts and Amber Kay Hutchinson at the new location of Amber Kay’s Cafe, at 1327 South Interstate Drive, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 31, 2023 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George/Cedar City News

Those waiting for Hutchinson’s signature eggs benedict, a Stag burger, or Hog’s pork chops will only have to wait about two weeks.

For the past couple of months, construction crews have been customizing Hutchinson’s dream restaurant. She got an email that her ice machine is in Las Vegas, and as soon as the contractor connects her hood, they can install the grills. And some countertops that were damaged during installation need to be replaced.

“We wanted to be open in the spring, but delays in shipping and construction set us back,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be open in a couple weeks.”

When asked about the cafe’s popularity on social media, winning Best of Iron County awards the last two years, and the reasons for switching from employee to employer, Hutchinson replied it hasn’t been easy.

Her father was hit by a car recently, forcing her to return to Nebraska for six months, all while trying to find a new location, oversee renovations and keep her family together.

“It’s what I do,” Hutchinson said. “I have a lot of regulars; I know exactly what they eat and what they drink — they all just became family to us. I love people having a place to eat where they can come and enjoy the atmosphere.”

After moving from the historic downtown district, Amber Kay’s Cafe found a new home at 1327 South Interstate Drive in Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 31, 2023 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George/Cedar City News

Some of that atmosphere comes from a bygone era when parents routinely took their children to work. So don’t be surprised if you are seated by a toddler. Sometimes, two of her waitresses have hosts in training.

“They were practically raised in the old place,” Hutchinson said. “They help with seating and bringing silverware. It’s a fun place.”

Still visible from south Main Street in Cedar City, near the southern Interstate 15 interchange, Amber Kay’s Cafe can now be found at 1327 South Interstate Drive, serving breakfast and lunch daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. once they officially open.

“We look forward to offering dinner in the future if there is demand,” Hutchinson said.

For the most up-to-date information and the exact opening date, follow them on Facebook.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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