Utah Stories

Religion with a Cup of Joe

A religious goods store and coffee shop right here in SLC.


Magdalene Religious goods Prayer Room
Magdalene Religious goods Prayer Room

Let’s be honest. In Utah, serving coffee in the same space where religious items are sold is a novelty. “People are intrigued by it,” says owner Jacque Smithe. Magdalene Religious Goods and Coffee Grotto sounds like a modern day version of changing water into wine. The coffee, however, isn’t brewed from holy water. But the mix of Catholic accoutrements and a shop featuring coffee, baked goods and paninis is a unique business environment. It even offers a decidedly local product. Because holy water so easily evaporates in this climate, Magdalene’s sells blessed salt.

Owners Magdalene Religious Goods and Coffee Grauto Mary J. Smithe & Timothy E.M. Smithe
Mary J. Smithe & Timothy E.M. Smithe

A year ago, Jacque and her husband, took a leap of faith. Jacque had never considered owning a business before, but when the area’s previous religious goods store announced it would be closing, Jacque walked away from a 23-year social work career and moved into a new adventure. The Smithes chose the Sugar House location in part because the neighborhood is “open and accepting.”

A novel aspect of Magdalene’s is the meditation room that Jacque created upstairs. The simple room provides a peaceful place for those seeking respite from the secular world. “I’ve tried to include elements that people from different religions relate to,” Jacque shares. Included are Jesus, Mary, and an abstract floral painting for Buddhists.

There’s no evangelical agenda, she notes, but “If people are interested, sure, we’ll share with them because that’s what we’re about.” A lifelong Catholic, Jacque pays less attention to the scholarly aspects of her religion, calling herself a ‘heart Catholic.’ “I just think we should treat each other with kindness and compassion,” she says.

Being baptized a first-year business owner Jacque says has been “nerve-wracking and scary.” But she receives support not only from the archdiocese and greater Catholic community, but also from the patrons who like coming here because her store and coffee shop “have good energy.” And Jacque also has her faith. “I decided to relax and give the process over to God. I prayed to St. Therese of Lisieux, who is called ‘The Little Flower’ because she’ll answer prayers through flowers. I went to the bakery to pick up some goods and when I was standing in line, a man tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and he gave me a rose.”

Magdalene Religious Goods and Coffee Grotto, 2030S. 900 E.; Open M-Sat., 10:00 am – 7 pm

Join our newsletter.
Stay informed.

Related Articles