Sugar House

#38: Rawtopia – A Food-Inspired Spiritual Awakening


Omar Abou-Ismail doesn't have your typical restaurant owner story. Originally born in Lebanon, Omar and his family traveled and lived throughout West Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Middle East, and eventually settled in Utah. After studying geophysics and mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, he began working with the U.S. Navy as a geophysicist. And then, in 2005, he opened Rawtopia. You could say it was a bit of a leap in career.

What started as a curiosity about the raw food movement became a passion, and his love for sustainability and care for the earth only fueled the flames. After he switched to a raw food diet, Omar began to feel more healthy, happy, and energetic. This new-found life style change felt akin to a spiritual awakening, and Omar wanted to share this feeling with the Salt Lake City community.

Rawtopia opened in Sugar House in 2005, and has become a staple in Salt Lake. Along with providing high-quality, healthy food, it also serves as an educational resource for people who are unfamiliar with what the raw food diet entails. Overcoming adversity, trials, and tribulations, Rawtopia has also celebrated many victories.

Join us as we sit down with Omar Abou-Ismail, and dive into his fascinating story, and all the lessons and changes that led to the creation of Rawtopia. We also learn what it means to eat raw food, and how the physical, mental, and sometimes spiritual benefits of a healthy and raw diet.

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#30: Karma Cafe – Good Karma, Good Food, Good People


Growing up in Southern India, Venkat was all too familiar with the power of a home-cooked meal. It was what brought family together, and was a detailed process that delivered high-quality, flavorful food that warmed the soul.

When Venkat moved to the United States to pursue graduate school, the thought of opening his own restaurant was always in the back of his mind. Though the local Utah Indian food scene was slowly growing, he felt it was missing truly authentic Southern Indian cuisine. But with an established career in the Chemistry field, the timing never felt quite right.

However, in 2014, with the perfect location in Sugar House opening up, Venkat and his wife Miriam opened Karma Cafe. Rather than focusing on creating a large menu, Venkat instead opted to embrace the home made, family style cooking that he grew up with. With only two dishes made a night, seating and portions are limited. But always, always worth it. Tied in with their delicious and specialized beverage menu, Karma Cafe is there for your weekend brunch needs, or your late night study break.

Venkat still balances his full-time job as a researcher with Karma Cafe. While this means a very busy schedule, it also means that passion flows through every area of his life.

Join us as we sit down with Venkat and Miriam, and learn more about Venkat's outstanding story.

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#13: Vive Juicery - All About Local, Cold-pressed Juice


Vive Juicery is cold-press juice shop in Sugarhouse that makes fresh fruit and vegetable juices -- and it's the product of Brittany Thaxton's blood, sweat, and tears over the past two years.

And just this week, Vive is celebrating the grand opening of their second location in downtown Salt Lake City, right by People's Coffee on 219 E Broadway. So today we sit down with Brittany to reflect back on their last two years, starting all the way to their farmer’s market days, to their original Kickstarter campaign that got them the startup capital they needed to make Vive a reality, and all the way up to today, where they have 20 employees, two locations, and press a lot of juice.

Join us today on an episode of The Utah Foodie that takes us through all this and more with Vive Juicery owner Brittany Thaxton and our host Chase Murdock.

Vive Juicery


Sugar House: 1597 S 1100 E

Downtown SLC: 219 E Broadway

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