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Eatin’ Out: The story behind family-owned Jem’s Cafe in LaSalle, off of US 85 |

Eatin’ Out: The story behind family-owned Jem’s Cafe in LaSalle, off of US 85

Milton Segovia admits he didn’t know how to fry an egg when he and his wife, Johana, opened their restaurant in LaSalle nearly five years ago. He was — and still is — a pastor, not necessarily a chef or a cook.

The couple opened their first and only restaurant, Jem’s Cafe, primarily as a business venture, and as a way to have a steady source of income. In fact, Milton initially founded the restaurant with his friend-turned-business-partner, who eventually decided to pursue other business opportunities after about three months, Segovia said.


But with help from the internet and several years of listening to the wants of their local patrons, the Segovias have created a menu that caters to busy breakfast crowds and burger-craving customers. They’ve also constructed a family-friendly, comfortable atmosphere that boasts many returning eaters.

Jem’s Cafe is located off U.S. 85 at 316 N. 2nd St. in LaSalle, and Segovia said his customers range from early-morning construction workers to dedicated, omelet-loving Weld County residents.

Johana said they serve mostly American-style food, and the restaurant’s most-ordered menu items include a variety of omelets, skillets, breakfast burritos, sandwiches and burgers.

The restaurant prides itself on its affordability and on being “always fresh and homemade,” with almost every menu item being made from scratch.

Milton said each food item has a Segovia-invented twist, and the restaurant offers homemade syrup, jams and mild to spicy green chile.

Before Jem’s Cafe took over the space in 2013, the LaSalle building was home to several other start-up restaurants that were ultimately unsuccessful. The couple admitted they’re not entirely sure why Jem’s Cafe has had the success it does — maybe it’s just that Greeley’s restaurants are always packed, Milton joked — but they said they’ve always listened to customers’ input and have toyed with their menu several times to get it where it is today.

The restaurant actually used to serve southern and Louisiana-style food, but it wasn’t selling. They said they knew they had to adjust and adapt to the local market.

Milton said he believes his staff’s customer service is also why they’ve stuck around for so long.

“When we started, we had a lot of people in the first year that told us, ‘Oh, you’re not going to make it here,'” Johana added. “But we just kept working hard and continued after our dreams to be successful.”

Jem’s Cafe is family-focused, which is even exemplified in the name of the restaurant itself. Milton said each of the letters stands for a family member’s name — J is for Johana; E is for the couple’s son, Ethan; M is for Milton; and the S stands for his staff, who have been essential in the restaurant’s overall success, he said.

Johana said the best part about owning a restaurant is having the ability to give back and cater to other families in the community.

Milton is originally from El Salvador and moved to Greeley in 1998, and Johana moved to the area from Costa Rica about 11 years ago, but they’ve made northern Colorado their family’s home.

The Segovias said they are still learning how they can better Jem’s Cafe every day, and they hope to open another location in the future — possibly in Greeley, but definitely in Weld.

“Something that we have is faith,” Milton said. “I believe that when you start something and it’s in God’s power. … He’s looking over you.”

Where to go

Jem’s Cafe is located off of U.S. 85 at 316 N. 2nd St. in LaSalle, and its menu ranges from breakfast skillets to burgers.

The nearly five-year-old restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and it is closed on Sundays.

For more information, call (970) 284-7794, or follow the restaurant on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JemsCafe.

Eatin’ Out

Eatin’ Out is a monthly series exploring the stories behind local restaurants in Weld County. Any suggestions or tips can be sent to business reporter Katarina Velazquez by calling (970) 392-4412, emailing kvelazquez@greeleytribune.com or connecting on Twitter @kvelazquez123.

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