There's a new kid on the Temple Square Hospitality block. The Nauvoo Cafe is a quick-serve eatery of carved-to-order sandwiches, pot pies, soups, salads and desserts.
The name comes from the fact that it's housed in the Nauvoo Room of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at 15 E. South Temple.
The cafe opened in late January, soon after another popular eatery, the Lion House Pantry, closed to upgrade its heating and air-conditioning systems. The Lion House is the 150-year-old home of early LDS Church leader Brigham Young, located a half-block east of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
"When the Lion House closed, we were looking at putting something in temporarily until it reopens April 9," said Neil Wilkinson, marketing director for Temple Square Hospitality, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "The need for a little cafe was evidenced by how busy the Lion House Pantry was.
"The other thing we realized that with the City Creek construction, there would be limited food services around those two blocks. So we're trying to provide an option to help with that. And this is another way for the public to be able to enjoy this beautiful building."
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building already has two sit-down restaurants, The Garden Restaurant and The Roof on the 10th floor. The Nauvoo Cafe was designed to offer a quick-meal option that's a step-up in quality and ambience from fast food. "It's a great fit for tourism," Wilkinson said. "When people are out walking around Temple Square, they can drop in and get something to eat quickly and be on their way."
Or, they can linger in the dining room, surrounded by artwork from local artists Al Rounds and Eric Dowdle. They can also enjoy their meal al fresco at one of the tables on the Main Street Plaza. The cafe also sells a few Mormon Handicraft gift items, "so that people can take a little piece of their visit home with them," said Wilkinson.
The restaurant's hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Like the other Temple Square Hospitality restaurants, it's closed on Sunday. Currently the restaurant serves around 300 customers daily. During weekday lunch hours, the sandwich line often trails out the doors.
Customers order cafeteria-style and watch as their sandwich is carved and made to order on ciabatta rolls, with choices of interesting condiments like cranberry-orange relish, chipotle mayo or horseradish sauce. Sandwiches are $5.99, and the pot pies (turkey or sirloin) are $6.99.
The house soup is Chicken Dumpling, which diners may recognize from the Lion House. The cafe's desserts are also such Lion House favorites as cream pie, brownies, carrot cake, muffins, cookies and raspberry bread pudding. They range from $1.95-$2.50.
The salads are pre-packaged, and there are take-out boxes and bags at the utensil station for those who need to get back to the office. "We want to keep it simple and build on it as we get comments from the customers," said Wilkinson.