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‘A Pinch of Love’

FD cafe refreshes menu with Mexican cuisine

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Sisters Crystal Lowrey, left, and Angie Reiter, pose with steak tacos and a burrito at the Pinch of Love Cafe, 850 S. 18th St. The two sisters have owned the cafe since 2017. After shutting down for about a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two changed up the menu to feature more Mexican style dishes.

Fort Dodge sisters Crystal Lowrey and Angie Reiter sometimes had a difficult time replicating their aunt Tammy Taylor’s recipes growing up.

So they asked her what her secret was.

“We could never get her recipes to turn out the right way,” said Reiter. “And she would ask us if we added a pinch of love.”

That was the inspiration for the two sisters when they opened their own cafe in 2017 on the south side of Fort Dodge. The name of the establishment is A Pinch of Love Cafe. It’s located at 850 S. 18th St.

Their aunt passed away about year before the opening of the restaurant.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
A freshly made burrito is displayed at A Pinch of Love Cafe.

Now with more experience under their belts, the sisters have mastered their own recipes. So perhaps it’s no surprise when asked what their secret is, they respond by saying, “A Pinch of Love.”

Aside from the cafe, Lowrey and Reiter each work full-time jobs. Lowrey works in food service at Fort Dodge Middle School. Reiter works at Community Early Childhood Center. And the two also spend a lot of time with their families.

But when the restaurant came up for sale in 2017, it was a chance to live out a dream.

“It’s always been a dream of ours to have our own restaurant,” Reiter said. “It became available and we went for it.”

Reiter added, “We opened this because we wanted to serve our own food and use our own recipes.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Crystal Lowrey, an owner of A Pinch of Love Cafe, adds some cilantro to a burrito at the cafe.

Business was steady for a while. But then the COVID-19 pandemic turned the restaurant world upside down. And with a small diner, the sisters didn’t think it was possible to social distance.

“We were closed for a year for COVID,” Lowrey said. “So then we opened back up for about a month with our same menu and it wasn’t doing very well. So we thought let’s make a huge change and get people through the door.”

That huge change involved making Mexican cuisine the dominant theme.

“The thought for the new menu was created because on our old menu we would have daily specials and our Mexican food would be a big hit,” Lowrey said. “Since the specials did really well, we thought, ‘let’s change it.'”

The menu was changed within the last couple of weeks.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
A steak taco, left, and a Birria taco, are popular items on the new menu at A Pinch of Love Cafe.

Steak tacos, Birria tacos and burritos are among the most popular items.

“And people love the Birria ramen,” Lowrey said. “We are very glad we added it.”

Onion rings, twister pickles and coneys are among the items that carried over from the old menu to the new menu.

“We make those (onion rings) homemade,” Lowrey said. “The onion rings those are shoestring style. You definitely get enough to feed you. It’s a big order.”

Fresh salsa is another local favorite.

“The fresh salsa is probably number one,” Lowrey said. “Some people just come in to get that and I’m fine with that.”

The sisters are both Fort Dodge natives. They both are graduates of Fort Dodge Senior High.

They enjoy working together.

“We like working together,” Lowrey said. “Some siblings argue but we get along pretty well. We are considerate of each others’ opinions. We won’t make any decisions without checking with each other first.”

They credit their families for coming in to help, too.

“Our mom (Shirley Dickerson) is a really big help,” Lowrey said.

“She really is,” Reiter added. “She comes and helps us no matter what. Either helping here or with the kids.”

Lowrey said Dickerson has been in the food service business in some form or fashion for about 40 years.

Dickerson taught her daughters how to cook at a young age.

“We were in the kitchen with our mom quite a bit,” Lowrey said.

“And we do the same with our children,” Reiter said. “We love cooking. We have always cooked for friends and family. Everybody always loves our cooking.”

Lowrey added, “If there’s something to made, our friends and family come to us. Whether for a graduation party, birthday party, or just a Sunday meal.”

They take pride on what is served to customers.

“We always say, ‘would you eat that?'” Reiter said. “If it’s not presentable, we don’t put it out the door.”

The sisters enjoy operating the cafe.

“I love cooking for people,” Reiter said. “It’s nice to have a place to call your own.

Lowrey admits the location isn’t perfect, but hopes customers continue to find them.

“We thought it was small and something manageable for us,” Lowrey said. “We are kind of tucked back here in the neighborhood, so I think people forget about us easily.”

They enjoy doing business in Fort Dodge.

“I love being part of the Fort Dodge community,” Lowrey said. “It’s a tight knit community. Everyone has each others’ backs.”

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