Jakey Bailey has been running “Jakey Leigh’s Cafe” since 2010 - “thirteen years of love and hard work,” says Jakey herself. She worked the place back when it was Vermillion Cafe, and when she came home to Kanab after getting her Associate’s in Business Management, she hired back on. “I was only there for a few months when the then owner decided to sell. I got some help with the financing, and bought the place - took me four years to finish buying the place completely … when I was going to school for my business degree, I wanted to do something that would allow my family to be a part of it. I’m accessible to my kids here, they come in and help - my favorite part of this is that I can still be a mom and have my family along with the business.”
Since then, the business has grown, and Jakey Leigh’s has bought the whole building that the cafe sits in. “It was a little scary, but I think the moment I felt like, ‘we did it, we finally made it,’ was when we made it through COVID without closing. When we survived that, I knew we’d thrive,” said Jakey.
And thrive they have; the cafe is looking to expand, with ideas like a second location or a mobile service in a food truck being considered. The quality of the cafe’s goods is starting to get attention, with Love Realty’s “Best of Kanab” series awarding Jakey Leigh’s their pick for best bagel. So if you’ll permit me, dear reader, to shift gears, I’ll step out of the Associated Press style for a little bit, and instead put on my food reviewing hat. According to Jakey, the bagels - like all of their baked goods - are made from scratch using classic family recipes. Their report to the Love folks state their secret ingredient is thirteen years’ worth of love put into the recipes. So how good is this bagel, anyway?
Well, I’m not one for superlatives, I’m far from qualified to determine the best of anything - but with that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jakey’s was right up there in the running for that title. I tried two different bagels to prep for this piece, onion and everything bagel, both toasted warm with ham and cheese, and I was genuinely surprised with how good they were. Bagels are supposed to be decently firm, and Jakey’s somehow combined the classic bagel texture with an extra flaky layer that went excellently together. I never doubted the Jakey’s team’s grilling skills, their ham and eggs have been just right each time I’ve ordered them, and combined with that on a well-balanced everything bagel, and you’ve got a competitor for “Best Bagel” indeed. Jakey put it well when she said, “I knew we’d done something right when people from New York are complimenting my bagels - when you’re close to a New York bagel, you’ve got it.”
The food is certainly good, but honestly, the experience is where Jakey’s shines. “We’re really fond of our regulars,” says Jakey, “we’ve got our group that comes in every morning, or people that come by at the same time every afternoon, and we just love them. I’ve gotten business advice, I hear all the gossip - I just really love that the place can feel familiar for people.”
I can heartily recommend a visit to Jakey’s; go try out the famous bagel and let me know what you think. Till then, I’ll let one last quote from Jakey Leigh herself wrap up: “I’m always looking for ways to improve the place, especially ones that I can handle myself. I’ve been lucky with my staff, my regular following and the support I get from the good people of this town.”