DRAPER, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Serving Time Cafe, operated by inmates at the Utah State Prison since 2009, has permanently closed its doors over coronavirus concerns.
Maria Peterson, Director of Utah Correctional Industries, said they did not make the decision lightly as they know its a disappointment for inmates who are given the opportunity to work there and for their customers.
The cafe has already been shut down since the pandemic restrictions in March, but for the ongoing health and safety of both the inmates and the staff, Peterson said they will not be reopening.
The restaurant is not in a normal setting, and the female workers return to an environment that would potentially put other inmates at risk, thus the decision to close it now, instead of when the prison is officially moved to Salt Lake City.
Peterson said they were also not planning to move the cafe once the new prison is built, mainly due to it’s more rural location instead of the convenience of where the cafe sits now, right off the I-15 freeway in Draper, next to the prison.
The Serving Time Cafe was part of the prison’s work program, Utah Corrections Industries, which allows offenders the chance to gain real life work experience while incarcerated. The women who were allowed to work at the cafe will leave with training and tools, including customer service and food prep, to help them once released into society.
Peterson said the idea of the UCI program is to allow inmates to return to their communities in a better place than when they arrive, with skills necessary to become productive citizens. The entire point of individuals going to prison, where 95% of the inmates are there less than two years, is to rehabilitate those who are come there and help prevent them from reoffending.
The cafe was a popular spot for many and Peterson said they have released the recipe for their loved peanut butter bars (see below) and are considering a doing a recipe book for their other popular dishes.
Peanut Butter Bars:
• 1 1/2 C. Peanut Butter
• 1 1/2 C. Butter 1 1/2 C. Sugar
• 1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar
• 4 Eggs
• 1 TBS Vanilla
• 3 C. Flour
• 1 TSP Salt
• 1 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
• 3 C. Oats
• Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes.
• Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on top and let cool.
• 1 C. Butter
• 1/2 C. Cocoa Powder
• 4 C. Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 TSP Vanilla
Add milk to consistency desired
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