Skip to main content

The City Journals

West Valley artist gives mural makeover to local Cafe Rios

Jun 21, 2021 03:08PM ● By Darrell Kirby

Josh Scheuerman recently finished this mural at Cafe Rio in Midvale. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

Walk into Cafe Rio Mexican Grill in Midvale and you will see a local touch despite the fact it is one of 135 restaurants that the locally-based chain operates across 11 states.  

It is a new community-themed mural painted on the wall straight ahead as you enter the fast-casual restaurant at 758 W. Blue Vista Lane.

The painting is the work of artist Josh Scheuerman, who has been commissioned by Cafe Rio to adorn some of its eateries with wall paintings that reflect in some way the people, culture, and landscape of the area around that restaurant. 

By the way, he’s the same Josh Scheuerman who led the years-long effort to get his native West Valley City to build a skate park, which today is a popular attraction at Centennial Park. 

As part of a redesign of a number of restaurants, Cafe Rio wanted to give more of a local flavor to the outlets. The result is what’s called “postcard-style” art that has the look of old postcards that showed the geography, heritage, and other local features painted inside the letters of the community’s name.

Scheuerman has painted similar types of murals at 13 other Cafe Rios in five states—places like Woods Cross; Boise and Pocatello, Idaho; Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Buckeye, Arizona; Las Vegas; and Aliso Viejo, California. “I don’t spend a lot of time in these other communities, so it’s good to make sure that I’m researching and doing my due diligence so that everything that is in the mural is representative of the community,” said the 43-year-old artist. 

It was no different with the mural at Cafe Rio in Midvale, where he researched and consulted with others to capture a few bites of the city’s history. When finished, Scheuerman’s artwork contained images such as City Hall, Gardner Village, Midvale’s mining history, and the now-closed Vincent Drug store and soda shop, a mainstay on Main Street for decades and site of several movie scenes. Other letters were filled with some of the fresh ingredients used by Cafe Rio in its fare. 

Scheuerman’s relationship with Cafe Rio started in January 2020. Someone from the restaurant chain saw him painting at an inauguration event for new Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. He was asked to put his talents to work as part of the company’s redesign of several of its restaurants to focus more on pickup and drive-thru instead of indoor dining. 

Cafe Rio folks are pleased with the outcome. “The new painted murals provide us a great way to jointly celebrate the connection between the history of our local communities and our Cafe Rio brand heritage,” said the company’s chief concept officer, Todd Smith. “Josh has done an incredible job of bringing them to life in a creative way.” 

Despite the satisfaction of doing what he loves, painting can sometimes be grueling for Scheuerman. Some of the projects he is hired for can take several 15- or 16-hour days with brush in hand to get it just right. When the artist spoke with the City Journals, he was heading the next day to Tonopah, Nevada to paint a mural on the wall of the town’s outdoor event plaza. He hopes Cafe Rio puts more mural jobs on his plate. 

The affable Salt Lake City resident is always happy to chat with people curious about his work. “My favorite part of painting is the interaction with the community wherever I am,” he said.