Caffe Niche: New owners make small changes | Wine | Salt Lake City Weekly

Caffe Niche: New owners make small changes 

Hip dining spot retains its charm.

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Nestled between the Avenues, the University of Utah and downtown, Caffe Niche’s location and modern-hip vibe—cozy and chic interior with art-adorned walls—hasn’t changed. However, the coffee house is being revamped by new ownership, hopefully to redefine its niche.

Owner/chef Ethan Lappé just moved back to Salt Lake City after country-wide travels studying the culinary arts and managing several restaurant kitchens. In Caffe Niche, he sees an opportunity to capture what previous owners, Jeff Martin and Tara Southard—of adjoining Dexterity Salon—created, while moving in a more food-savvy direction. The two are Lappé’s family friends, and business discussions began while Martin styled the hair of Lappé’s mother.

Lappé acted quickly, using Memorial Day weekend to train staff and remodel, reopening with a new vision on June 1, 2010. He and executive chef Adrian Alvarado are aiming to fill a void in Utah’s restaurant scene. “There’s nothing exceptionally wrong here, but I think there’s a need for more homestyle cooking, not contrived and not cheap [quality],” Lappé says, “We just want to be known as the friendliest place to get really great food.” The vegetable plate—roasted beets and goat cheese, roasted whole artichoke, super-grain tabbouleh and more—covers a wide range of intricate flavors. The Thai beef and noodle salad’s basil-mint, spicy/refreshing combination with mangos, avocados and lime dressing will satisfy discriminating food snobs.

New changes also include regular hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) with dinner nightly, grab & go lunches, and, instead of in-house baked goods, pastries from local makers like Martin’s Fine Deserts and Vosen’s will fill the shelves. So, quaint charm intact, customers should readily embrace the new Niche.

779 E. 300 South

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