Casablanca Steak House by Lomitas opens

New restaurant reunites a well-known team of cooks

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Casablanca Steak House server Paige Pettit shows off two steaks fresh from the kitchen on their way to a customers table recently.

Two well-known cooks with a long history of preparing tasty steaks and prime rib have reunited at Casablanca Steak House by Lomitas, 140 S. 25th St. This latest addition to Fort Dodge’s blossoming restaurant world is owned by Alfonso Galvan, who also owns Lomitas Mexican Restaurant 2223 Fifth Ave. S.

Gregg Harris and Jim Nicola are the managers and lead cooks at this new enterprise. The two have worked together for nearly a quarter century, first at The Cellar and most recently at Eilers Steakhouse.

Over the decades the steaks and prime rib that are their specialty have been big draws for beef lovers not only from Fort Dodge but also many neighboring communities.

The availability of Harris and Nicola to lead Galvan’s new business venture came about because Eilers Steakhouse closed in March. Galvan said that created a void in a sector of the restaurant marketplace that he sought to fill by establishing a bar and grill in the property that had housed Lomitas Mexican Restaurant prior to its move to the city’s booming Corridor of Commerce in 2016.

Galvan said the cooking prowess of Harris and Nicola was well known in the community. He said many of his customers at Lomitas told him they missed the wonderful steaks and scrumptious prime rib that Harris and Nicola had prepared for them at Eilers Steakhouse and before that The Cellar over the years. Galvan said he approached the two about overseeing his new venture and recreating the superb beef offerings that attracting such loyal customers. They agreed to come on board.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Casablanca Steak House server Paige Pettit, right, makes sure everything is just right for Jason and Cindy Stankey, at left, along with Kim and Sharka Alstott as they stop in for a meal recently.

“Those guys know what they are doing,” Galvan said.

He said several other former Eilers employees have also been recruited to staff his new restaurant.

Harris said he agrees with Galvan that there is a widely shared sentiment in the community that a restaurant featuring steaks is needed. The creation of Casablanca Steak House by Lomitas is intended to address that need.

“Since the Eilers Steakhouse closed there have been a lot of requests for a good place to get a steak,” he said. “That’s from a lot of our old customers and other customers.”

Harris and Nicola both said they find the appreciation for their efforts in the kitchen by former customers to be a high compliment. They said they are enthused about the opportunity to serve them once again and look forward to this new challenge.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The C
asablanca Steak House sign is shown against the evening sky as they prepare for an evening of serving fine steaks to their customers.

“It’s gratifying to know that people miss what you do and want you to do it again,” Harris said. “People have told me how much they miss the steakhouse. That to me is a good compliment. Knowing that people appreciate what you do is satisfying.”

Steaks and more

The menu at Casablanca will feature steaks. Prime rib will be available on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We’re going to try to keep it simple, keep it a steak house,” Harris said.

“We do offer sandwiches and other things,” Nicola said.

If a patron isn’t in the mood for beef other options include chicken, pork and fish.

Making certain that the steaks are absolutely first-rate is a key part of the game plan for success at Casablanca, according to Harris.

“The steaks are all probably going to be bought locally,” he said. “They will have a fair amount of age on them. We use either certified Angus beef or USDA prime. That’s all we use for our steaks. Those are the two highest grades in the meat business. I cut them all here myself. The only thing precut that we are going to get is porterhouse and it will be done locally. Everything will be done fresh.”

The dining room will feature both booths and tables. It has the capacity to accommodate about 100 customers. Additionally, there is a small bar area that can seat eight.

Melissa Wilson, who also previously worked at Eilers Steakhouse, is the bar manager. She said patrons will find a wide array of choices.

“It will be a full bar,” she said. “Whatever they want, we’ll have.”

Service at the bar will begin at 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The kitchen opens at 4 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m. The establishment is closed on Sundays. The enterprise has a workforce numbering just under 20.

Galvan has a straightforward message for potential customers.

“If you are looking for a good steak and good prime rib Casablanca will be a good place to go,” he said.