Community Spotlight: Red Earth Cafe

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While camping and nature might be the draw for most people at Johnson Sauk Trail State Park north of Kewanee, some visit for the creature comforts of grandma’s kitchen one restaurant provides.

Tucked away on Johnson Sauk Trail State Park, there’s a place for pie.

Owner of Red Earth Cafe Julie Clark said, “I like to make pies. I make anywhere from two to eight pies a day. Largely two crust pies, just like my grandmother did and my mother.”

While it might be easy to start with owner Julie Clark’s desserts, she said Red Earth Cafe has something to please most every stomach.

Clark said, “We go clear from the bison burgers and the beef burgers vegetable sandwiches.”

But one of this restaurant’s sought-after delicacies isn’t on the menu. It just requires finding the right seat at the table.

Clark said, “Whole group facing the lake and I think people find that to be very relaxing, a part of the getaway.”

Before Clark worked in its kitchen or before the restaurant was built, the park was a part of her childhood.

Clark said, “I was a girl scout here. We did our picnics over here.”

And then with her family, like many others, who came here to dine with the view.

Clark said, “We’re local people, and I really like the idea of this setting, and it became available. I’ve had a long history in the restaurant business, and I thought this would be a nice place to work.”

She took over in 2012, renaming it Red Earth Cafe to honor the Native American heritage of land but is also continuously learning about its other inhabitants in between orders.

Clark said, “We see so much wildlife. I didn’t know much about the migration patterns of herons.”

And when she has a break, she said it a perfect way to relax with dessert and customers.

Clark said, “I can tell if the pie is good if it smells like my grandmother’s house.”

Red Earth Cafe opens in early April and closes around Thanksgiving after the hunting rush.

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