Comfort on the corner: The owner of Uptown Cafe is getting ready to expand their business


Photo by McKenzie Vitale

Smith often finds himself talking with long-time customers as though they’ve been friends for years. His favorite part of the industry he works in is meeting new people every day.

McKenzie Vitale and Kylee White

Although the weather outside was grim and cold, the atmosphere inside Uptown Cafe resembled a sunny day, and visitors to the restaurant could watch the owner, John Smith, talking to customers as if they were long-term friends. Uptown Cafe stands tall on the corner of Downtown Noblesville, where students can be found enjoying their breakfast. 

Starting in high school, Smith has been working in Uptown for more than 20 years, making this place a home for patrons of the business. 

“I just want people to feel comfortable, I want them to enjoy themselves,” Smith said. 

At age 16, Smith found himself looking to buy a car, and like most teenagers, he got a job. And soon enough, he fell in love with the industry: working at a restaurant. 

“I guess it’s always been a goal of mine coming out of high school, even college as well, to run one,” Smith said. 

Smith originally went to school to be a Physical Education teacher and a football coach, but  he soon found teaching just wasn’t right for him, and the restaurant business called his name. Starting at Sunrise Cafe in Fishers, Uptown Cafe’s former name, Smith has traveled all over the state of Indiana serving breakfast and smiles to each customer he meets. 

“This is a lifetime job for me, everything I’ve applied in some way or another to what we do,” Smith said. 

Uptown Cafe has been open for many years, pulling in customers for not just the food, but the atmosphere. 

“It’s just a little town cafe,” Mike, a long-time Uptown Cafe customer said, on a gloomy Sunday. “It’s like a little family.” 

And that “little family” is finding its way to a new Carmel location. Along with the responsibilities that come with owning a business, Smith is focusing on branching into new territories for Uptown cafe. Now, Smith is taking what he created here at Noblesville and bringing it to the new Carmel location.

“I’m most looking forward to the growth, with the staff that’s going there. I’m excited to see how they handle that. Back here we are splitting the staff up, so I’m still going to have to be here at Noblesville,” Smith said. 

Since rebranding in 2013, Uptown has continued to adapt and grow over the past few years, even attempting to open a bar before COVID shut many restaurants down. Almost two years later, the cafe continues to thrive because of the loyal customers that walk through the doors. 

Smith also makes it a priority to focus on making sure each location provides the same experience and service for guests in all cities. 

“I want you to be able to go to all three locations and have the same experience. To me, it all starts with the menu,” Smith said.  “Keep it basic and simple. That’s what we’ve been doing for years, why change it now?” 

From staff that greet you as you’re walking through the door, to homemade food, freshly made and ready to serve, Uptown Cafe doors are open from six in the morning to two in the afternoon ready to welcome guests from all over. After all the work that goes into running a business, Smith finds joy from the people.

“I’m excited to meet new people. That’s why I love the whole diner concept, especially here at the corner in Noblesville, just the people you meet coming in,” Smith said.  Now, with the new Carmel location about to open, customers from farther out can enjoy the atmosphere made here in Noblesville.