Big Ed’s feels like home. The food is good, cheap, and it’s made with love.
When Utah Stories visited Big Ed’s, Mom wasn’t in the greatest of moods, “What’s my story? My story is I get up every morning at 6, I come here and cook, I usually leave at 9. I go home and cook dinner for my husband, then I do it all over again the next day, six days a week.”
From this opening statement you might not guess that “Mom”—as so many of her customers call her—loves her job. But her authenticity and her love for her customers and the college kids is evident.
Big Ed’s was the first restaurant I remember ever going to by myself with my brother. About 30 years ago, Mom served us hamburgers and french fries. I remember the feeling she gave us when she was probably in her late thirties. She cared about us, she smiled and thought it was so cute that a couple of summer camp kids would come in and dine at her restaurant.
I remember her moods; Mom was never fake. She wouldn’t “put on a sunny face” if she was having a bad day. But over the years her customers and staff have learned not to mess with Mom if she isn’t feeling cheerful. But Mom’s moody bouts made all the times she has been happy and cheerful all the more precious.
“I didn’t want to come to America” she confided in me. “I couldn’t speak the language, and I didn’t know anybody. My husband brought me here because of his sister and got me a job driving a forklift.” Five short years later, they bought Big Ed’s, and just like a freshman facing unknown challenges, she overcame learning English and found her niche providing warm meals in a unique manner that made her food and atmosphere feel like home.
“So what do you do for fun?”
I asked. “Fun?” she laughs. “This is my fun! I raised two kids, work eighty hours a week, and still cook for my husband when I get home. This is my fun”, she repeats and carries her armload of glasses off to the dishwasher.
After serving up family fare for the last twenty-nine years, she has seen a lot of students come and go. This year is no different. “I’m sixty years old and I’ll be here cooking until I’m eighty-five,” she said. And then what’s going to happen next? “Maybe I’ll get to see my future grandkids graduate,” she smiles and then hurries off as a waitress shouts out an order.
I think what Mom provides is exactly what “Ruth” did in her day at her diner. People keep coming back because it’s one of the few authentic joints still around in SLC.§