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Taste of Downtown

June 13, 2013
Messenger News

TC Mae's Serves Up Soul Food

Craving some crispy Southern-fried chicken? Hungry for a po' boy or grits? You'll find it at TC Mae's in downtown Fort Dodge.

"We don't do recipes-we do old-school Southern cooking," said Ira Shivers, who operates the diner at 1010 1st Ave. South with his brother, Dartonya Shivers, children Dylan Vodraska, 22; Shyra Vodraska, 17; Ari Vodraska, 16; and nephew Hammad Al-Hameed.

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Shivers, whose family roots run deep in Alabama and Mississippi, credits his mother, Tommy Mae, and his grandmother, Charlie Mae, for teaching him the fine points of classic Southern cooking. He named his family diner after these influential women and is proud to carry on their legacy.

"Family is important to us," said Shivers, who opened TC Mae's in September of 2013. "We want our customers to feel like they're part of the family when they're here."

That's especially true on Soul Food days, which are offered every Tuesday and Thursday. Shivers and his family serve up fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and more. If customers aren't sure about a menu item, they can try a sample. "You'd be surprised, but collard greens are one of our most popular items," said Dylan Vodraska, who cooks many of the meals.

Specialty burgers prove popular

Shivers and his family bring years of practical experience to TC Mae's. Shivers, a Fort Dodge native, has worked in the foodservice business for 20 years, most recently at Iowa Central's cafeteria for the past four years. His son Dylan began working at local restaurants following his graduation from Fort Dodge High School a few years ago.

The family is following in the footsteps of Shivers' grandfather, M.P. Brown, who moved to Fort Dodge from the South in the mid-1950s and ran a restaurant known for its fried chicken. "He paved the way for a lot of us," said Shivers, who appreciates the opportunity to teach his children how to cook and operate a business. "My joy is having my family involved in TC Mae's."

The restaurant, which can seat up to 34 guests, serves breakfast all day, including the signature Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich, which features two sausage patties, bacon, cheese, egg, hash browns and sausage gravy. TC Mae's is also known for its Chef Burgers, which include the Rev. James Burger, which features a beef patty, pulled pork, coleslaw and barbecue sauce; the Lemon B. Preston Burger with two beef patties, pepper jack cheese, bacon, Asian Zinger Sauce and sauted onions; and TC Mae's Mango Habernaro Burger, which includes a beef patty, a fried egg or egg over-easy, American cheese, bacon and Mango Habernaro Sauce.

In a world filled with chain restaurants and standardized menus, there's nothing quite like TC Mae's, said Shivers, who takes suggestions for new specialty burgers. "We like to send people off with a full belly and a smile. When they come back, we know we've done our job even better."

TC Mae's is open Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. To view the full menu, as well as the daily specials, log onto



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