There are dozens of restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines in Fort Dodge for diners to choose from, and during the course of the past year, several have been added to that list, giving the hungry even more choices.
They offer a tour of tastes from home cooking with a Southern flair, traditional Midwest menu items, family dining and treats with an Italian flair.
Ira Shivers, the owner of TC Mae's, located at 1010 First Ave. S. opened his restaurant on Sept. 24.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Shaine Snodgrass, general manager of Marco’s Pizza, prepares a pizza in the kitchen.
"We do a lot of home-cooked Southern-style food," he said. "It's a way to show respect and pay homage to my family."
As a new restaurant owner, he said he sees both good and bad days, but overall, it's been a good experience.
With a downtown location, one surprise he's seen is that few of his customers work or live there -they drive in from other sections of town or even from as far away as Jefferson.
"We get around," he said.
In the future, he would like to expand the restaurant and the catering side of the business.
He's willing to pull up his sleeves and work for those goals. He said that having a passion for running a restaurant is important.
"I don't like to cook," he said. "I love to cook."
He has a simple goal for each customer.
"I hope they leave with a smile," he said.
He also offers the after-bar-close crowd a place for breakfast - he's open from 1 to 4 a.m. on Sunday morning in addition to his 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday hours. Saturday is 8 a.m. to noon.
For a taste of a true Iowa meal, the Maid-Rite at 2223 Fifth Ave. S. offers the traditional loose-meat sandwich as well as new variations on them such as wraps, Coney Island hotdogs , salads and even home-smoked pulled pork sandwiches.
Co-owner and general manager Jeremiah Condon said that after they opened their doors on Oct 10, 2012. things have been great.
"We had a huge rush," he said. "Things have been wonderful."
One of the things that's surprised Condon in his new enterprise are the number of customers who tell him stories from Maid-Rite experiences past.
"I had one gentleman who told me how in 1951 a root beer float cost 15 cents," he related, "So he would order an ice cream for 5 cents and a glass of root beer for 5 cents then mix them together himself."
The biggest challenged he's faced so far is getting himself and his employees up to speed. He said it was actually an enjoyable experience.
"We're learning together," he said.
One of the goals he's set for the restaurant is making sure that his customers not only get a high quality meal, but also have a fun family-oriented experience.
"I want the Maid-Rite to be a fun hangout," he said.
In the summer months, he has a putting green outside for his customers to use.
The Maid-Rite also offers a selection of beers and wine; Condon said that while his customers are taking advantage of that, he expects it to pick up in the summer months.
He said he's also found the Fort Dodge business community has been a great supporter and help. He's also grateful for the customers who are visiting.
The Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, opened its doors at 511 S. 32nd St. to the public on May 9, 2012.
Leon Klemisch, managing partner of the restaurant, is thrilled with the result.
"It's been excellent," he said. "It's one of the best, if not the best, startups I've been associated with."
He said that the volume of business has been very good and that Fort Dodge has been an excellent location to work with. He credits the city with being a hub for shoppers, visitors to the hospital, students and the Webster County seat.
"We still have people coming in for their first visits," he said. "We're nine months in."
He sees a lot of customers from local business and workers for the Cargill and CJ Bio America projects he said.
He's also proud of his employees and what they have done through the community. Klemisch said he plans on continuing and increasing the amount of public service projects they're involved in.
"We want to reach as far as we can," he said.
One of the things he continues to seek is feedback from his customers. He's always interesting in hearing about their food likes and about items they might like to see offered. He cited a request for a specific type of hot sauce as an example.
"We have it now," he said.
He also offered up a final bit of information for those who are curious - the size of the famous giant flag.
"It's 20-by-40 feet," he said. "You need at least two people, preferably three, to take it down."
Marco's Pizza, opened it's doors on Sept. 24. is managed by Shaine Snodgrass.
His one concern, how the community would react to a new style of pizza, turned out to be a positive.
"The community has really taken to our pizza," he said.
He said that the dough and sauce are from the founders grandmothers secret recipe.
In addition, he said they also offering new sandwiches and salads.
Ordering a pizza has gone digital there.
"Twenty-five percent of our business is online orders," he said.
He is also hoping to get the "Movie and Pizza" online partnership with Family Video next door up and running completely. This will allow a customer to select a movie and have it delivered with their food.
For now, the Fort Dodge location is the only example of the Toledo based pizza restaurants in the region, he hopes to be able to open another Iowa location or two in the coming year.