homepage logo

Owners of Ogden’s Two-Bit Street Cafe mulling future after eviction

By Cathy McKitrick - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 29, 2023

BENJAMIN ZACK, Standard-Examiner file photo

Two-Bit Street Café in downtown Ogden is pictured in August 2018.

OGDEN — For the past two decades, Two-Bit Street Cafe on Historic 25th Street has served up hearty meals and a warm welcome to customers who ate there so often that the space felt like home.

“I think I’ve eaten everything on the menu in the 20 years I’ve been going there — and there’s nothing I wouldn’t eat again,” Steve Jones said recently. He and his wife have been longtime friends with the restaurant’s owners.

But Two-Bit’s era came to an end on Christmas Eve when James Dayley and his wife, Penny Allred-Dayley, served their last brunch and shut their doors in order to vacate their space by the new year.

The decision to uproot their livelihood during the holiday season had not been their own. The George Pappas family owns their building and others adjacent to it and had given the Dayleys orders to get out by the end of December.

“The impact has been devastating,” Allred-Dayley said Thursday. “It’s like our whole life has been jerked out from under us.”

BENJAMIN ZACK, Standard-Examiner file photo

Two-Bit Street Café in downtown Ogden is pictured in August 2018.

However, Allred-Dayley found a bright spot in that turmoil. Customers had flooded Two-Bit Cafe on Christmas Eve to say goodbye to a favorite haunt.

“The positive part of it is seeing the overwhelming love and support from this community,” Allred-Dayley said, her voice cracking with emotion. “I have never in my life seen such an outpouring of kindness, love and support.”

The cafe earned a reputation for quality food at affordable prices and also garnered a Best in State award for its brunch. Much of the credit for those culinary accolades goes to Allred-Dayley, who handled the bulk of the cooking through the years.

But many businesses on the street have come and gone, finding it difficult to survive in the long term.

“I knew one day that we would eventually hang it up,” Allred-Dayley said. “You can’t stay forever, but I’m still not quite ready to hang up my frying pan.”

Landlord-tenant dispute?

Tensions mounted in early November when the landlord’s daughter contacted James Dayley about paying a $4,000 plumbing bill for work he didn’t hire and an invoice he said he hadn’t received.

Many of the buildings on lower 25th Street were constructed well over a century ago and some had cast-iron pipes needing to be replaced.

“So it was either pay this bill or get out at the end of the month. And I had never even seen the plumber’s bill,” Dayley said, noting that he received that message while sitting in his doctor’s office waiting to schedule cancer surgery. The timing felt like salt on a wound.

Through much of November, they haggled over who should pay that bill as Dayley dug into details about the repair.

In the meantime, Two-Bit Cafe had a wedding to host for an out-of-state client along with several parties scheduled through the holidays. And they’d recently renewed their annual liquor license, Dayley said.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Dayley underwent surgery, and the next day, he said he received a call from the landlord’s daughter, again seeking payment for the plumbing bill.

By the following Monday, Dayley had agreed to pay and arranged for that check to be delivered by certified mail.

Unfortunately, their recent rent check had bounced because the out-of-state payment had been credited to their account but was not yet available to spend, Dayley said.

“Since the pandemic, I don’t even know how we survived,” Dayley said. “It’s hard for customers to find a place to park. And our biggest challenge for the last two years has been employees that will come to work and work when they’re supposed to be here.”

Lack of a reliable night chef forced them to eliminate Two-Bit’s evening hours, which significantly shrunk their bottom line.

However, Dayley said his work as a hypnotherapist and magician supplemented their cafe income, enabling the pair to keep their business afloat during hard times.

Scott Van Leeuwen, who owns and operates the neighboring Gift House, lamented Two-Bit’s exit but spoke up for the Pappas family.

“I feel pretty bad about them leaving. Any time you lose a viable business, there’s concern on the street,” Van Leeuwen said. “We share the same landlord. He treats me very fair but I also treat him pretty fair.”

Landowner’s perspective

George Pappas III, reached by phone Thursday, shared his family’s devotion to Historic 25th Street and its colorful past, even though he and his siblings now spend much of their time in Salt Lake and Park City.

“My grandfather (George Pappas Sr.) was 14 when he came over here (from Greece),” he said. “Now we’ve got everything in a trust and that won’t change during my lifetime” — even though they get frequent offers to purchase their buildings.

While noting his family’s fond ties with Van Leeuwen, that sentiment cooled when speaking about the Dayleys.

“When it’s more work to keep them there than it’s worth, then it’s just not worth it anymore,” Pappas said.

Pappas alleged that they were often late with rent payments and also blamed them for supposedly pouring grease down their drains — which Allred-Dayley vehemently denied.

“We have a grease barrel at the back door where we dispose of it. We get paid for it — they come and pick it up and it gets used for biofuel,” Allred-Dayley said.

In a phone interview Friday, Andrea Pappas Phillips said she’d prefer not to discuss those details.

“We had some good years with them. It was a business decision based on many factors to go forward with a different tenant,” Phillips said. “We wish them the best in their new endeavor.”

What’s next?

The Dayleys have until Sunday to sign a lease on another location if they want to hang on to their current liquor license. Otherwise, they’ll have to reapply with the state to get a new one.

“We have a young couple interested in taking over the business,” Dayley said. “The only catch is that I would not put my worst enemy into the situation I found myself in.”

But at this point, they do have some possibilities. “We’re looking at a couple of spaces in the area,” Dayley said.

And Pappas said that a handful of Salt Lake City clients have shown interest in the soon-to-be-vacant eatery/bar spot — including a vegan restaurant and popular sports bar.

“We’d absolutely put a business in there to try to enhance business on the street,” Pappas said. “That’s the direction we’d like to go.”

For Allred-Dayley, her concerns center on the customers who basked in Two-Bit’s down-home warmth.

“Ogden needs a place where anybody can come. The elderly, the LGBTQ community, they feel safe here and we’ve tried to welcome everyone,” Allred-Dayley said. “Now that welcome is going to change. Hopefully we can welcome them again.”


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)