JTs Country Store and Cafe opens
Cahones new place for food and meeting friends
Chickens are roosting in the backyard as pumpkin pie bakes in the oven. The oak floors creak under footsteps. The only thing missing from this country home is a roaming sheep dog.
But this country home is actually a cafe.
JT’s Country Store serves as a restaurant, gift shop and snack shop. Not quite a grocery store and not a full menu restaurant, JT’s is the nifty combination of a quaint and comfortable eatery and stop shop.
Located in Cahone off highway 491, JT’s serves breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The hours for Sunday are 9 a.m to 2 p.m.
Tracy Blagg is a first-time business owner. Her and her husband, Jim, moved from Dallas, Texas in December of 2011, to be close to family and make a life change.
“It is different living out here,” Tracy says.
The view from the back porch of JT’s is rolling hills of agriculture and the Utah mountains in the distance.
“I love that I can go one direction and be in the desert and go in the opposite direction and be in the mountains,” Tracy says.
JT’s is named for Jim and Tracy. But why did Jim get to be first? It was close to being TJ’s, but Tracy’s research discovered that name to be too popular, so she inverted the initials.
The building the Blagg’s purchased is not any old store front property. JT’s was an actual home, complete with a dirt floor cellar.
“We knocked out some of the walls, put in the kitchen and one of the rooms is my office,” Tracy explains. “We kept the original floors, oak and maple.”
What began in July, as a simple sandwich shop and convenience store quickly turned into something more. The residents of Cahone didn’t have much to choose from when it came to places to socialize.
“They would meet in the post office parking lot,” Tracy says. “That’s where you’d see your neighbor if you are out.”
After opening, they quickly gained a regular following of customers. Tracy greets most of her patrons by their first names. The others are tourists or people passing through on their way to Utah. At first, the store was like a grocers. They have bread, milk, canned goods, snack foods and a small section of tables for breakfast and lunch. Once the Pleasant View Mercantile opened down the road, Tracy and Jim decided the canned goods were no longer needed.
“We are going to keep the sodas, candy, bread and milk, for people who are stopping through or for residents who need anything.”
Tracy says that even if a resident came in asking for lunch meat she would sell it to them. As long as they have it, she’ll accommodate. Even though Cortez is a measly 28 miles from Cahone, it seems like a much longer trek.
“We want to provide people with what they need because that’s a tiring drive,” Tracy says. “And they would rather go without.”
More thaN sandwiches
With the convenience of JT’s, residents have found a new place to convene. The sandwich shop began to see more traffic and Tracy noticed that patrons were interested in sitting, talking and enjoying their meals. So she implemented a menu with more items. They currently serve breakfast burritos made with fresh eggs they collect from their flock of chickens roaming their backyard, and sausauge biscuits, biscuits and other breakfast items.
LaVonne Heaton is a part-time employee and second cousin to Tracy. She contributes her homemade baked pies, cakes and breads to the cafe.
Faith Dance is also a part-time employee. Her craft and consignment items such as, quilts, crocheted blankets, aprons, jewelry, kids items and many other things, are found in the gift shop. They also have a variety of locally grown beans and homemade jams.
“I crochet, knit, sew and quilt,” Dance says. “And I make the jams and jellies we sell.”
JT’s continues to make sandwiches and have added half-pound and quarter-pound hamburgers to the menu. They make their hamburgers with raised beef from East Pines Ranch.
“If people want beef from that ranch they normally have to go to Telluride or Durango,” Tracy says. “We are lucky to be able to serve these hamburgers.”
Tracy has many plans to expand but says they are all things that will take time. Offering more shade on their patio, more tables inside and a place to sell used books and audio books for people on the road, are all ideas on Tracy’s list. When it begins to warm up next year, she hopes to hold barbecues for her customers and stay open later hours for live music and socializing.
“There is a big population of people out here,” Tracy says. “They don’t have many places to choose from in Dove Creek and Cortez is 30 minutes away. We want it to be one of those places where people can feel comfortable and relaxed, and be close to home.”
The business is a work in progress. A year from now, it could be a full blown restaurant. For now, the Blagg’s are keeping it simple and laid-back, leaving plenty of room for learning experience.
JT’s Country Store is located at 14047A Highway 491 in Cahone. They are closed Mondays and are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday hours are 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. Contact Tracy Blagg at 562-4280 for more information.