Des Moines

Kevin’s Pub Des Moines would have to be built across the street from (or next door to) a Maid-Rite. Loose Meat Sandwiches and draft beer for the win!

I spent a lot of time in Des Moines on a project years ago. Except for the snow, it was an amazing place – and even the snow wasn’t too bad, because if you don’t clear the snow in front of your place, the city does – and charges you, so everybody clears the snow. Plus, many of the buildings downtown have walkways between them, so you don’t have to walk in the streets in the weather (are you listening, Buffalo?)

It’s the Midwest. There is meat, meat and more meat. The steaks were great, the people were great and the pork sandwiches are basically a chicken fried steak (except made from a pork cutlet) on a bun. So, chicken fried steak, schnitzel, veal parmigiana, pork sandwich – the Big Four.

I was there during the Flood of ’93. The motto “Iowa, it’s a great place to grow” was updated to “Iowa, it’s a great place to row.” I came home one Friday, and the water plant was breached the next day. Oops. I called the office on Monday, and asked if everyone was OK, and that I assumed that the weekly staff meeting was canceled (i.e. I didn’t need to fly up.) The reply I got was, “The water’s in bottles, the power’s from a generator in the parking lot, but it’s casual day!” We worked through the flood. The Iowa Cubs minor league team had their Fourth of July party in September. They won in the bottom of the ninth, and then the Beach Boys played.

When I got home, I found out my upstairs neighbors had let a towel fall into their bathtub. The water filled the bathtub, flooded their apartment, blew a hole in the floor (my ceiling) and then flooded my apartment. I called my co-workers in Des Moines, mainly to explain the irony of another flood in my life, and they said, “We’ve got a few thousand extra sandbags we can send you.”

I made a friend at Maid-Rite because I say, “Thank you” as a reflex. After about two weeks in town (going to Maid-Rite at least twice a week), I went back to Maid-Rite with all the locals and the worker at the line said, “Hi Sweetie! Do you want your usual?” The locals were highly insulted as they had been going for years and never been recognized. Say “Thank you!”, y’all.

I also met a chef when I was in Des Moines. It was accidental. I was in a steakhouse in the walkways, and I may have had a drink or two, and the steak was so good, I told the waitress to tell the chef how good it was. (My hazy recollection is that I said, teary-eyed, “Please tell chef this steak was great. I’m from Texas and it’s hard to (hic!) get a decent steak away from home (hic!) but this was amazing.”

She sent him out to the table.

So, I told him personally how good the food was, had an after-dinner drink, and staggered back to the hotel.

Two weeks later, I took one of my co-workers to dinner there since we were both from out of town. Halfway through the meal, the waitress (a different one) asked, “Are you from Dallas?” I said, “Yes, I am” and she said, “Chef thought he recognized you. He hopes you enjoy the meal, and let him know if you need anything.” My friend was speechless. So, if you can’t remember “Thank you”, get drunk and tell the Chef how wonderful the food is.

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