The Return of The Hub

A Brand New Taste

Whether you’ve lived in Heber your whole life or are new to our community, you probably know that The Hub is a beloved local treasure, and has been for nearly a century. Originally built in 1933, The Hub has seen a few owners and a whole lot of history, but it has always belonged to the town of Heber.

The fresh paint, wood, and leather scents greet me as I walk into the newly renovated Hub. I can imagine the welcoming aroma of pancakes, freshly brewed coffee, and French fries that all great restaurants have. The main dining area is bright and cheerful, thanks to ample sunlight streaming in from the new windows and the bright, painted, and tiled walls. The bar is open, with comfortable bar stools, and a window that allows me to see into the kitchen. It looks different from the old Hub, but the familiar layout, same booth-style seating, and old photographs reassure me that this is still the same Hub; it just got a much-needed makeover.

The Hub has had a few owners in its lifespan, the most recent owners taking over the reins being Mohamed “Moe” Mohamed and Devin Johnson. Moe first came across The Hub in 2016, before he purchased Mountainland One Stop from lifelong local Jeff Wade. Moe wanted a positive change in his life and came to Utah looking to buy a gas station in a different town. However, when he arrived, Moe discovered the station was already under contract with someone else. He was told about a possibility here in Heber City. Moe decided to make the trip; and that’s when he first experienced the Heber Valley and decided to buy the Mountainland One Stop. He also made it a goal to one day purchase The Hub. He sold everything he owned, and in July of 2016, bought the One Stop and moved to Utah.

When Moe took over the Mountainland One Stop, Jeff Wade, wanted Moe to be successful, and wanted the traditions Mountainland was known for to live on, so he generously showed Moe the ropes. They went to the auctions, the rodeos, the fair, and all the local events that Jeff contributed to so that Moe could know how to continue and carry on. Moe says his biggest goal was to make Jeff proud, just like he would his father. Over the years, he’s happy to say he has. So much of what Moe does at the One Stop is because of Jeff and his influence. Moe had a similar goal for The Hub: it would be a great place to fix up and bring back to the locals — making them proud.

Devin Johnson lived in Salt Lake but had property in Lake Creek that he and his family would frequent. He wanted to spend more time in the Heber Valley, so he purchased a home in Midway. He frequently traveled to his Lake Creek property and always stopped at the One Stop for drinks. Devin struck up a genuine friendship with Moe right from the get-go. One day, Moe asked him if he would like to become his partner. They became equal partners of Mountainland One Stop in 2021. They also purchased the car wash behind the One Stop; in August of 2022, the business partners realized another long-time goal as they became the new owners of The Hub.

Moe and Devin are different people, but the vision for The Hub is the same: revive it and re-establish the connection the locals have with The Hub. Moe states, “With all the changes and growth happening in the valley, Heber needs something that stays in the community. The Hub belongs to Heber. If I can get someone who hasn’t been here in five years, ten years, to come back and have them feel that they are home again, my goal will be met.” Moe continues, “Anyone can buy a business, but something that has almost 100 years of history is special. It has to continue as part of the community. That’s what I want to do.” Devin agrees, “If you talk to generational locals, you can’t find someone that doesn’t have a family member that hasn’t worked here or some kind of family connection here.” He, too, wants Heberites to come back in and still feel like this is “their” place. “We still want people to feel connected, just like they have their entire lives.”

After the purchase, they planned on an interior remodel and update; however, once they started, they realized the entire building, top to bottom, was going to need more work than they had anticipated. The cinder block holding everything up was crumbling and would not have lasted much longer, let alone another 90 years. They ended up gutting everything down to the roots. 98% of the plumbing was shot and had to be redone all the way out to Main Street. Once word got around town that it was being renovated, local construction companies wanted the privilege of helping out with the historic building. Moe explains, “Everybody we’ve hired has been as many locals as possible. Most tradespeople are One Stop customers who are in almost every day. We’ve been using familiar faces. It’s hiring people in town, it’s keeping it in the big community circle because they have supported us — even though we are not the cheapest option — it’s meant a lot to us.”

Moe and Devin hired the designing talents of Midway Design Interiors, Brie Duncan and Emma Murphy, because they, too, have fond memories of The Hub and wanted to be a part of its updating. The new aesthetic MDI brought on is more simplified and modern, but there are still touches of the old Hub. One thing they all wanted to keep was the booth-style seating. They spent a lot of time getting the right booths. They wanted customers to come in and recognize the booths and say, oh, this is still The Hub. The bathrooms are completely redone. They added more windows and outside seating. The kitchen has been a labor of love for Moe. He is excited to have a large new kitchen with a huge walk-in fridge and all new appliances. The materials might be different, but they are hoping to preserve the culture. Devin shares, “There is a huge weight in terms of stewardship; this town has been relying on this place for 90 years. Many people are looking for this to be special, and we don’t want to be the ones in 90 years to screw it up! We feel the mantel of that stewardship and want to ensure we do it right.”

Before they opened their doors, The Hub ​had a branding party and invited all who had a family brand to come in and sear it on their walls. So many families, some with 100+-year-old brands, took advantage of the unique opportunity. It’s cool to see all the different brands stamped on the wall and hear how long they’ve been around. Moe knows the history of most of them and plans to create a book with all their info.

“We feel the mantel of that stewardship and want to ensure we do it right.”

The building and ownership aren’t the only things that have changed. It took over a year to put the right management team in place. They hired Kevin McElroen as their executive chef. Kevin brings over 30 years of culinary experience and was looking for a long-term, quality project with great people to work for. One of the best moves Devin and Moe feel they made was to get an all-new culinary team together, which Kevin trained, for a fresh start. They plan to have an excellent menu and hometown customer service, where locals and visitors can feel welcomed and catered to.

Speaking of the menu, it will be a new menu, but there will be some of the old staples too, including all the breakfast favorites. Before, the employees were cooking to feed the masses, and now, there is a real emphasis on fresh, local, and quality ingredients like local honey from Heber, small-batch cheeses from Midway, and fresh produce from local farms. The famous pies and cakes will stay on the menu, but just as before, they will change seasonally. All the meats will always be fresh, never frozen, with a down-to-earth quality. An inspiring addition to the menu will be the homemade pasta that will be made fresh daily.

I asked Moe and Devin why they felt so passionately about reviving The Hub. With its prime location and how busy Heber is getting, it could literally be anything, and it would be successful. Moe answers honestly, “It’s a special place. We didn’t want it to go by the wayside. It’s a special place for me because it was my first experience in Heber before I even purchased the One Stop. It has a strong emotional connection to so many people. Not many businesses left in Heber can say that or even say they’ve been open that long.” Devin adds, “When you have what The Hub has, how can you not preserve that? People from all over still make it a point to stop in because they want to go to the place they went with their father and grandfather when they went hunting. You can’t buy that, and you can’t replace that. It’s living history because it is still connected with people still living today through their ancestors. You’re right; it could be anything, but we’re not trying to do just ‘anything.’ We want to revive the history and the emotional connections. It’s fulfilling to be woven into the fabric of the town you live in, to contribute to society, and have a place.”

Both Devin and Moe acknowledge they may not have as extensive of a history with The Hub as some, but they each have their own history and memories. And they’ve been here long enough to know that The Hub is still a local treasure worth keeping. It’s a place where locals and visitors come back and feel at home because that’s what we do in Heber. If you want to get to know Heber, go to The Hub. We’ll be there waiting to greet you.

1165 S Main, Heber