Station 22 Cafe
22 West Center Street
Provo, UT 84601
Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
From the outside, Station 22 resembles a genteel Southern country club. While you wait to be seated, you can smell all of their food cooking in this glorious mixture of maple syrup, toasty waffles and fried chicken—I think the clever bastards must pipe it in directly from the kitchen. Both Station 22 and Black Sheep are located within Provo Town Square, which is the property of Richard Gregory, who I’ve come to regard as kind of a Happy Valley godfather—he’s known for muscling out national chains that want to infiltrate his property. Station 22 as we know it today is actually the result of a fairly new direction that Gregory has put into motion. Last June, he hired Jason Talcott as a managing operator, and the two have turned the restaurant into the kind of mythical purveyor of good, local food that you secretly hope every city has. “We want it to feel like we were expecting our customers, like they’re just coming home for dinner,” Gregory says.
Gregory is originally an architect from the food and wine mecca Napa Valley, and that food culture definitely influenced his interest in operating a restaurant. “Growing up in Napa Valley, we have food and wine and that’s it. I’ve always loved food, and I’m able to articulate what I like. As long as I have the right help, it works. That’s where Jason comes in,” Gregory says. Talcott is a Utah local who was working for the Heirloom Restaurant Group when he met Gregory. “I started following Station 22 on Facebook. I came in, looked around, and saw it as the place I had been dreaming of opening. I was so jealous! As fate would have it, I was running a dining booth at the Rooftop Concert Series, and the folks from the Provo Downtown Alliance introduced me to Richard. We talked for about an hour about food, music and all things Provo,” Talcott says.
Their menu is made up of dishes from all over the place—ratatouille, pot pies and Adventist veggie burgers. I started with a few of their signature dishes: The Memphis Chicken Sandwich ($9.99) and the Sage-Fried Chicken and Waffles ($10.99). The candied bacon and maple syrup provide the sweet and salty element that I love about this dish. The waffle was thick and crispy, and it worked well with the dish as a whole, but, on its own, it wasn’t too memorable. Overall, the Memphis Chicken Sandwich was decent. I really liked the ciabatta roll, and the spicy fried chicken delivered a nice kick to the tastebuds. The slaw provided some crunch, but I would have liked some sweetness to counter balance the heat of the spicy butter glaze. I was also hoping for a more substantial piece of chicken—the meat of my sandwich may have been fried for a little too long, which sapped the chicken of some necessary juiciness. My wife ordered Belle’s Turkey ($10.99), which is a traditional hot turkey sandwich with a few twists thrown in. Instead of a dollop of mashed potatoes, the sandwich is paired with a healthy serving of mashed root vegetables and smothered in Station 22’s famous root beer gravy. I love a good hot turkey sandwich, and the subtle sweetness of the gravy along with the buttermilk fried onions made this one stand out from the rest.
From a service standpoint, my visits to Station 22 had a few hiccups. On one visit, we had three different waiters checking up on us. Initially, I thought this was nice—our drinks were always kept full and our food arrived promptly. However, it became a problem towards the end of our visit. As they were out of soup and sweet potato wedges, I asked if I could have a side of collard greens instead. When our first waiter brought my check, I noticed that they charged me for the side. After explaining the situation to our second waiter, he informed me that I wouldn’t be charged. When our third waiter brought me the receipt, it turned out that I was charged after all. All the waiter juggling created a bit of a failure to communicate, which ended up costing me a couple of bucks. Despite these few missteps, it’s important to note that Station 22 has been entertaining the dinner crowd for just under a month, and with that comes a few kinks to work out. I have faith that Station 22 will fully realize its potential for greatness as their experience grows.
In addition to supplying Utahns with comfort food from all over the nation was the idea of having a place where people from all walks of life could meet and socialize comfortably. Station 22 offers an eclectic menu of sodas for the non-drinkers in the area. Gregory’s experience with wine tastings in Napa Valley inspired him to create a similar option for folks who don’t drink alcohol. Some of the brands they have available are Brigham’s Brew from Wasatch Brewers, Cheerwine, Virgil’s Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Rootbeer, Cock n’ Bull Ginger Beer, Reed’s Ginger Beers, Butterscotch Beer and many more. “There are lots of places for LDS folks and non-LDS folks individually. Our craft soda list is a way to bridge that gap,” Gregory says. Soon, Station 22 will be providing its customers with a selection of beer and wine that will satiate those customers who like something a bit stronger with their comfort food. Overall, Station 22 has definitely created an atmosphere that is conducive to socializing regardless of one’s background, and I look forward to the day when it hits its stride and everything comes together.