Cafe Italiano

Huseyin Deniz shows off a berry smoothie made at his food truck, Cafe Italiano. First-time entrepreneurs, Huseyin and his wife, Muserref, started the food truck less than a year ago. [Photo by Makeda Barkley / Moab Sun News]

Huseyin Deniz and his wife, Muserref, have found success in making espresso and sandwiches for the masses of Moab. What might be a surprise is that they do it all out of a tiny green trailer parked next to the Canyonlands Trading Post, 83 S. Main St, from 8 a.m. until 7 p,m. daily. 

Welcome to Cafe Italiano, one of Moab’s newest coffee shops and very possibly the smallest. Offering a variety of coffee and espresso drinks, panini, smoothies and other goodies, the Deniz family have found a niche in the Moab restaurant scene.

“It became a passion for me, brewing coffee,” Huseyin said. “It may be cliche to say, but when I brew each customer of mine coffee, I feel like they are one of my good friends.”

“It is with that understanding mentality that we are trying to brew our coffee,” he said. “I try to express and share this with all of our helpers, colleagues and friends of our coffee shop.”

Huseyin is a trained barista who loves brewing coffee for fun.

“Brewing coffee was my hobby, you can ask my wife,” Huseyin said.

“When she wanted coffee, I would give all my attention to it and brew really good coffee at home,” he said. “Later, I would bring coffee to the office. Maybe 10 or 12 people were working in that office and I would make coffee for everyone.”

His hobby has paid off. Cafe Italiano is a popular spot for tourists and Moabites alike.

“Their espresso is really good,” Moab visitor Madelyn Browning said. “I’ve never been to Italy, but this beats the other coffee I’ve had in town so far.”

The Denizes are fairly new members of the Moab community. After visiting Moab less than three years ago, the family decided to move to Utah.

“Me and my wife decided to make a big tour all around California, and we landed in San Francisco.” Deniz said. “One of my best friends had been living in Moab for eight years and insisted that we drive over to Moab. We had really limited time, but he convinced us to come for just two days. We loved it!”

The couple knew that visitors would love what they had to offer.

“I figured out that there are a lot of families from Europe coming here,” Deniz said. “In Europe and Turkey, there’s a custom of getting a nice cappuccino or espresso after a meal. Coffee is also important for social times. It is not only a drink, but a social communication for people.”

The couple started their food truck business in September 2018 after realizing that renting commercial space in Moab is a large expense. Now located in the parking lot of the Canyonlands Trading Post, the Denizes rent the space to park their trailer. The couple are well-liked tenants of Robert Daye, the owner of the Canyonlands Trading Post.

“They’re just absolutely wonderful people, genuinely nice people,” Daye said. “I have no complaints at all about them and I think they're a great asset to our community. They're here early in the morning and late at night, trying to make a living out of a little box, I've got a lot of respect for them."

While the couple expressed enthusiasm for their current set-up, they hope to add more seating and shade. The Denizes are also looking for a building space to start a second business.

“Maybe our next step will be a Mediterranean restaurant,” Huseyin said. “I’ve been trained at more than 12 years in five-star hotels all over Turkey. I know food culture. Food and beverage is one of the biggest parts of hospitality. Still, I have good connections with people who are masters of the kitchen. Maybe one will come here to work in my kitchen.”

While their passion may be coffee, the Denizes are just like many Moabites in their love of Moab’s recreation opportunities.

“In our first year, we have just been totally focused on the business, but next season we will take special days to go skydiving, hiking and maybe rafting in the river,” Huseyin said. “The environment is awesome for activities. It’s one of the best in the world!”