If you’ve ever walked by Peace Tree Juice Cafe in Moab, you are probably familiar with the colorful logo featuring a tree with peace symbols in place of leaves.
Karen Whipple, 58, started her original business, Peace Tree Juice Café, 21 years ago in Moab. As of 2004, she also operates a second Peace Tree in her hometown of Monticello. Childhood influences helped her make Peace Tree a success.
“I was in the gardens with my grandma. Peace Tree is bringing the farm-to-table garden way to a larger scale so we can feed more people. We try to feed as many people as we can,” Karen explains.”
Peace Tree now offers an expansive menu pleasing a wide customer base while also sticking to its roots with offerings of juices, smoothies, coffee, and wraps, with ingredients sourced from local farms whenever possible.
Karen speaks with pride in treating her staff like family. She refers to a gentle, peaceful vibe shared by the staff, and how the connected branches of a tree are analogous to a family. The shirts with the peace tree design were in fact designed by her friend Ellen who used to work at the cafe.
Starting the business at the tail end of raising her children Karen feels that she has taken the lessons of motherhood with her into her business endeavors. Karen has successfully transferred her skills from one realm to the other.
She takes that awareness into her hiring and mentoring of employees, giving a chance to women who lack formal training. Speaking of an employee at her Monticello restaurant, Karen says, “I like bringing out people’s gifts. She’s a home cook, but she’s a good cook, and she’s gonna be the cook at the Monticello diner. It’s exciting that she’s going to have the freedom to have some items of her own on the menu. She’s nervous as hell, but we’re going to do it anyway.”
Karen can certainly empathize with her protégé. “When I first started, I was nervous as I could be. I cried a lot, but I never gave up.”
As for advice to young women thinking of starting new ventures, Karen says, “Nowadays, there are a lot of resources. You push through that fear, keep doing it, and don’t let that fear stop you. Find somebody to help coach you along the way. I think the world is ready for more women business owners, especially in Moab. I would like to see that.”
Peace Tree is located at 20 S Main Street in Moab and 516 N Main Street in Monticello.