With a panoramic view of the Escalante River winding through a red rock canyon, the Kivahouse is unlike any other place in Utah.
Kiva koffeehouse is constructed from massive ponderosa pine logs over 40-inches in diameter which form supporting beams. The structure is an octagon shape similar to the Native American kiva. It has that amazing quality of fitting seamlessly into the landscape. It’s a rare feat that a man-made structure can accentuate such spectacular scenery.
Kiva was the longtime dream of Bradshaw Bowman. He started sketching his ideas in the late eighties. By 1996, Grand Staircase Escalante became a national monument. Fortunately he had already been grandfathered in with his permits “which allowed him to avoid jumping through a lot of new hoops,” said granddaughter Sara Zorzakis. The buildings took five years of actual construction and were completed in 1998. Living to see his dream completed, Brad died in 2000. His dying wish was that his family continue to operate Kiva Koffeehouse and Kiva Kottage as a bed and breakfast and coffee shop.
Sara said when they started they had one basic question: “How do we get food out here?” With no experience in the restaurant or coffee shop business they started by buying some of their produce from local farmers, picking up some from a distributor in Escalante,“The rest we grow ourselves… Just this year we finally got one of our food distributors to come out here.” They took inspiration from Brad. Learning as one goes along was never a problem for him. He studied engineering at Stanford, but Bowman learned as he went along to be an architect and builder. Bowman is recognized as “the father of stamped concrete.” He was the first in the world to make authentic looking stamped concrete that resembles flagstone. He later sold the company and “Bowmanite” still is going strong.
Getting people to visit hasn’t been the challenge Sara thought it would be. Kiva Koffeehouse has been written about in at least two international guidebooks. “We get many Europeans who come in because they said they read about us.”
Sara adds, “We get as many Europeans as we do Americans. They do a grand loop from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef and include six or seven parks.” The popularity of Highway 12 has made Kiva Koffeehouse and Kiva Kottage a must-see destination. Not bad for someone who knew more about concrete than coffee. §