“It wasn’t that the streets weren’t paved,” she said. “They were. But no one minded if you rode your horse to the store.”
Taylor said that growing up in Moab was the best childhood she could have imagined. She grew up running cows, riding horses and playing in the nearby creeks.
“Moab was different,” she said. “There weren’t any curfews. There didn’t need to be because there was nothing scary.”
Her family spent the summers in Telluride, Colo. with their cattle, but beyond that, Taylor said she rarely left town.
She continued the ranching life when she married Joe Taylor, a local rancher. The couple moved to a ranch near Dewey Bridge, where they stayed until their children were school age, then they bought a house in Moab.
“It was a wonderful life,” she said.
When she wasn’t busy helping with the cows, Taylor raised and showed quarter horses.
“Our horses were really well known nationally,” she said.
In 1993, Taylor, who was recently divorced, decided to try her hand at running a restaurant. Four years earlier, her father, Karl Tangren, had opened a restaurant in a double-wide mobile home about three miles south of town. He ran the Branding Iron for seven months before selling it. With his help, Taylor bought the business back and started her career as a restaurant owner.
For the next 10 years, with the help of her kids and her dad, Taylor ran the Branding Iron. It soon became a popular hangout for locals, who loved the red-checkered tablecloths, pool hall, and overall friendly atmosphere, she said.
“When I bought it ... I was single,” she said. “Without my kids, I never would have been able to make it work. They were all teenagers at the time, and they jumped in and helped. They made it what it was.”
In 1995, the restaurant was destroyed in a fire, but Taylor didn’t let that stop her.
“We just rebuilt the doublewide,” she said. “We kept adding rooms to make more seating. We had seating for over a hundred people, but it was just the double-wide with a lot of add-ons.”
Taylor sold the restaurant in 2003, after she met and later married John Ogden and began raising quarter horses again and enjoying her time off. But in 2012, Taylor found herself back in possession of the restaurant.
“Things just didn’t work out for the gentleman I sold it to,” she said.“I wasn’t looking for a job. But as far as jobs go, this one is great.”
The familiar double-wide is now gone, replaced by a new building after the restaurant was damaged in another fire. In June of 2012, Taylor started to get the restaurant ready to reopen.
“My son asked me if I was going to put the ugly red-checkered tablecloths on the tables,” she said. “I told him I was, and he said, ‘Good. It needs it.’ Everyone had really fond memories, and they wanted it to be like they remembered it.”
Three months later, the Branding Iron reopened and Taylor has once again transformed it into a favorite place for local residents. She’s also having fun.
“I get to see people I haven’t seen in years even though we all live in Moab,” she said. “The locals have always come and supported me.”
The restaurant continues to be a family affair. Taylor opens the restaurant in the mornings and Ogden takes over to close the place at night. Taylor said her dad still comes in to help every day.
Taylor said that some people feel like the Branding Iron would benefit from being located closer to town, but she believes the restaurant is in the perfect place.
“I’ve got the best location in Moab,” she said. “This is my corner.”