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Kiva Koffeehouse: Family-run business offers cool retreat in southern Utah

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29 2007 12:24 a.m. MDT

Barry Ence and her daughter, Sara, run the Kiva Koffeehouse at the northern end of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Kristin Nichols, Deseret Morning News

ESCALANTE — This is exactly what her father envisioned: a cool spot for road-weary travelers in which to take respite from the brutal stretch of Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante.

Passers-by can miss the Kiva Koffeehouse easily. It's hidden in the spectacular, harsh landscape, and only a small sign announces its place at the northern end of southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

One recent summer day, it's 107 degrees outside, but cool inside the kiva-styled rock building where — now that her father is gone — Barry Ence is doing his work. She's greeting customers, serving refreshments and supervising the kitchen where homemade soups, breads and specialty "Southwest" recipes are on the stoves.

Her daughter, Sara, works by her side, and her granddaughters help, serving sodas, chilled juices and freshly ground coffees and teas from all over the world during the hot lazy days of summer.

"Here I am," said the founder's daughter, Barry Ence. "This is my calling."

She has been here during the warm-weather season from April to October every year since 1998, when the building was finished. Bradshaw Bowman, who had a premonition about the place he wanted to build on his family's property, died soon after, at age 87, on Christmas Eve of 2000.

Ence wishes every customer could have met him. What a character, she says. Artist, mentor, contractor, inventor and engineer, Bradshaw Bowman was the founder of Bowmanite concrete stamping and is considered the father of decorative concrete.

He used logs, stone and glass to make the Kiva Koffeehouse building just past milepost 73 on the state highway, 60 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bowman started the project in 1990, but progress was slow. It took two years for him to collect 13 Douglas fir logs from the high forests of the West that make up the building's perimeter. Some of those support logs have nearly 300 rings. The smaller interior logs and rafters are spruce.

Sandstone was hauled up from a quarry on property the family has owned since homesteading it in the 1860s.

Later he added the "Kiva Kottage," two cabins nestled on the rim beneath "The Kiva." Each room is 500 square feet and has a Jacuzzi bath tub, fireplace and spectacular views of the land Ence calls home.

Former President Bill Clinton deemed the property part of the 1.9 million acres of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument when he designated the area in 1996, using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

"My father was really mad at Clinton at first," Ence said. "But then he decided it was better to have it surrounded by the Staircase rather than developed into condominiums."


E-mail: lucy@desnews.com

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