• Last modified 821 days ago (June 28, 2018)


Year-old eatery has plenty of history

Staff writer

It may have a historic-sounding name and a familiar though out-of-the-way location, but Santa Fe Trail Café in Tampa is actually one of Marion County’s newest dining establishments.

And people who eat there have good things to say about it.

“We’re glad it’s here,” said Edna Backhus of Tampa. “The food is delicious. There is a wonderful crowd on Sunday.”

Nathan Brunner agrees.

“The food is excellent,” he said. “What I like is that Pat changes the menu up and has specials, and the price is reasonable.”

His wife, Katy, also is a loyal patron. “We like to support the community,” she said.

Backhus and a group of women friends meet at the café every week. A group of 20 or so senior citizens also meets there once a month.

Pat Dalke of Hillsboro and her daughter, Ashley Johnson of Tampa, are co-owners. They took over the Tampa Grill in April 2017 and renamed it.

Employees of companies installing a wind farm in northwest Marion County have boosted sales.

“We’re swamped,” Dalke said, “but we keep busy with just our local people.”

People come from outside the area, as well, including a Hesston couple that dines at the café every week.

The café is providing jobs for local people. Four to five employees work on weekdays and more on Sundays. Area teenagers are eager to work during summer months.

“I’m struggling to fit them all into our schedule,” Johnson said.

The café is open for lunch every day and breakfast Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday is the busiest day of the week, Dalke said. That’s when the café features western burgers. Fried chicken is the main entrée at noon Sunday.

The café serves a steak dinner once a month on Saturday evenings. Dalke has served as many as 96 on steak night. The café can seat 82.

She worked at Tampa before and is glad to be back. “I love it,” she said. “My daughter and I get to hang out together, and the people are awesome.”

Last modified June 28, 2018