New name, new concept for Draper’s Food for Thought cafeOct 21, 2020 03:42PM ● By Linnea Lundgren
Steve and Erin Sugiyama greet customers at their drive-up window at Bubble-n-Bean at Food for Thought. (Linnea Lundgren/City Journals)
By Linnea Lundgren | [email protected]
Times are a changin’ for local restaurants, and Draper’s family-run Food For Thought is changing with them.
The neighborhood cafe, housed in a historic bungalow on Fort Street, is now Bubble-n-Bean at Food For Thought. The same owners are there, but the drink and food menu has been updated, as has the style of service since pandemic restrictions became the new normal.
“We’re grateful to see our customers through the walk-up [window] or the drive-thru,” said Steve Sugiyama, who, along with his wife Erin, has operated the cafe for over 22 years. “We keep modifying to fit the needs and desires of our customers. It’s a different concept for the foreseeable future.”
The cafe changed from what Sugiyama described as “a vibrant cozy restaurant with 20-30 (indoor) seats” into a walk-up and drive-thru establishment. Luckily, there’s plenty of outdoor seating underneath the century-old ash and black walnut trees or on park benches at the adjacent Draper Historic Park. To help speed up service, they’ve streamlined the menu and they also offer online ordering.
As the new name implies, there’s now a focus on bubble beverages or “boba” drinks. These tea- or fruit-based smoothies have chewy tapioca pearls (bobas) at the bottom, which are slurped up with a fat straw. “They are fun to drink,” Sugiyama said. A standout boba is their taro cream smoothie, a purple-colored frappe with brown sugar bobas at the bottom that’s best described as tasting like a coconut-y graham cracker with milk.
On the bean side of things, the cafe serves organic, locally-roasted coffee from Logan-based Caffe Ibis in both a light and dark roast. “Both make a really good latte,” Sugiyama said. He started drinking Caffe Ibis as a Utah State student and has enjoyed their coffee for decades. Chais are made from a special recipe from Erin’s mom which blends the Indian spices of cinnamon and nutmeg with star anise and fresh ginger from Asia. Popular tea lattes include matcha latte and their London Fog—organic Earl Grey tea and steamed milk accented with lavender.
Kids will be wowed by Bubble-n-Bean’s fresh lemonades, Pineapple Dole Whip ice cream, and the wintertime delight of hot cocoa with homemade, seasonally-inspired marshmallows (think pumpkin spice for fall, peppermint for the holidays).
Longtime Food for Thought fans can still enjoy breakfast treats including freshly baked pumpkin bread, raspberry scones, cinnamon rolls and acai bowls. For lunch or dinner, there are favorites like their gluten-free tomato soup and vegetarian butternut squash soup and sandwiches. Popular salads, such as the Southwestern, Pasadena blue and Mandarin chicken salad, are still on the menu.
Erin and Steve have lived in Draper for 20 years, raising two sons, Tomio, a senior at Corner Canyon, and Yukio, a seventh grader, who both help out in the restaurant.
Steve’s ties to Draper, however, go well beyond the past two decades. His Japanese-American paternal grandparents lived in the Bay Area during World War II and were forced to relocate when they were threatened with deportation to an internment camp. The family moved to Draper with nothing. It was in this small farming community, Sugiyama said, that families embraced his grandparents, renting them land to farm and standing up against discrimination when a basketball team refused to let his father play.
“My dad talked fondly of Draper. He felt at home here and felt it was a good place to start over,” Sugiyama said.
With Draper’s growth, the Sugiyamas have seen their customer base expand over the years from mostly city employees to parents with kids, friends out for lunch, and bicyclists and hang glider enthusiasts on their way to Corner Canyon. Being a neighborhood cafe, they hope the new online ordering and drive-up/walk-up options attract local businesspeople, teachers and high school students, who want a quick and healthy lunch. And, with the road opening from 1300 East to Fort Street via 12650 South, they look forward to seeing kids ride their bikes over to order a Dole whip or monster pretzel from the walk-up window.
Operating a family-owned restaurant for over two decades has been a passion, Sugiyama said. “We are now just looking at a different way forward,” he says. And in doing so, he hopes to “under promise and over deliver” on the new Bubble-n-Bean.
Bubble-n-Bean at Food for Thought is at 12640 S. Fort Street. They are open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Order online at foodforthoughtutah.square.site/