Saturday, August 14, 2021 is the final day of operations at Joe Morley's restaurant in historic Midvale. Photo courtesy of Brent Morley
MIDVALE, Utah — Joe Morley’s BBQ closes its historic Midvale location after decades of service to barbecue loving Utahns. Many loyal fans of Joe’s are remembering the many family outings centered around the barbecue spread.
From humble beginnings to Capitol Hill
Joe Morley began serving up barbecue at a Midvale strip-mall in 1984, with eight tables and a pick-up window for take-out orders. His first smoker was a converted old gun safe.
Some notable customers have included Utah’s last six sitting governors, from Spencer Cox
all the way back to Norm Bangerter. There are memories of Utah State Senators and House of Representatives, and U.S. Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich at an event back in the 1990’s, all getting a taste of Joe Morleys BBQ.
COVID-19 and other factors
The decision to close the doors came after a particularly difficult year of COVID-19 and other factors.
“Well the biggest reason is our building and property has been sold to a developer. But it’s really been a combination of things,” Joe said.
Morley adds, “Covid has obviously been hard on us not being able to cater to large gatherings. And post-Covid, or whatever you call where we are now, things have gotten even harder with meat prices at an all time high, labor is incredibly hard to find right now, our building is really old, and so am I.”
It might not end
Joe Morley’s BBQ has served at many ground-breaking ceremonies. Most recently, the Salt Lake Airport construction team of over 2,100 workers.
His son Brent Morley has been running the day to day operations for the past 15 years. He hopes a decision can be made to keep the family business going into the next generation.
“With so much history and so many loyal customers, I’d really like to be able to keep things going in some form or fashion. My dad’s business has become our family identity, my kids have been working here now, and it’s something we have all really loved doing. Maybe after things calm down a little or once I find the right opportunity, we can get back open again. I hate to see it go,” Brent said.
A big piece of BBQ history
Joe Morley’s BBQ claims the title of Utah’s original and longest running BBQ restaurant.
The restaurant will be open for their final days Thursday, August 12th through Saturday, August 14th from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
After decades of serving BBQ to thousands of Utahn’s, Joe Morley’s iconic Midvale location is closing its doors. Photo courtesy of Brent Morley.