THE DISH – Curses new and old

By Jim Duncan

It was a most anxious third quarter of the year in Iowa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that farmer incomes would drop this year by more than one-third compared to last year. That has depressed the value of agricultural and chemical companies like DuPont Pioneer, John Deere and Monsanto. Earlier this month, DuPont announced the resignation of its CEO, leading to speculation that the Delaware giant might break off its ownership of Pioneer, one of Iowa’s largest employers. The interim CEO made his reputation splitting up another large company.

Glyphosate, a source of great wealth in Iowa, was in the news for all the wrong reasons. After the World Health Organization declared that the chemical “probably causes cancer,” France, Mexico, Holland and Russia banned Round-up, the main herbicide that delivers glyphosate to genetically modified crops. Lawsuits followed.

Seventy years after their last World Series appearance, five fans of the Chicago Cubs made a valiant attempt to dispel the legendary Curse of the Billy Goat. The fans, who are also competitive eaters, devoured a 40-pound goat in 13 minutes and 22 seconds. At press time, the Cubs were still playing, and it was October.

Bee advocates were even happier than Cubs fans. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned United States Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the honeybee insecticide sulfoxaflor.

The Good News

Tanya Suarez opened the Cuban café Ceviche Bar in East Village… Josh Madden reopened The Bear in Ankeny. The menu has expanded, but the name was kept in honor of the previous owner… Spencer Vandeberg planned to open Lurra Cocina by press time. That Sculpture Garden area café will be managed by Mike Crownover with Nick Illingworth (Flying Mango, Blue Tomato, Tangerine, etc.) heading up the kitchen. Paella, mulled wine and Spanish beers are planned specialties of the house… Jason Smithson announced an October opening for American Outlaws Bar on Third Street in the former Kamodo Klub. Country rock music will be featured… JC Obrecht and Chandler Parsons announced an October opening for their Reclaimed Rails Brewing Co. in Bondurant with Dave Coy (Raccoon River Brewing Co.) as brewmaster. The brewery, next to both the Chichaqua Valley Trail and the Gay Lea Wilson Trail, will invite food trucks and caterers to feed the bikers… Patrick Cashman, Ryan LePera and Marc LePera planned an October opening for Guru BBQ on MLK Parkway in the former Des Moines Brewing Company. Guru will feature traditional BBQ such as brisket, ribs and pulled pork, as well as BBQ shrimp po’ boys, Korean tacos, Chinese steamed buns and Jamaican jerk chicken. Their specialty will be “chocolate bacon bacon chili” with ground beef, Italian sausage, chopped jalapenos and matchstick bacon… Also planning fall openings in the former Des Moines Brewing Company building were Jimmy John’s, with a drive-thru window, Fuzzy’s Tacos and 300 Craft & Rooftop… Jasbir Makhija planned on an October opening for his Indian café, Tadka, with his wife Harpeet as chef. The restaurant takes over the venue of a former Cozy Café on Hickman in Waukee… Former Angelo’s owner Mark Nicola planned to open a new café in the former Cozy Café on 121st Street in Urbandale, hoping for a November opening… Longtime Los Angeles restaurateur Nishapat Meesangkaew opened Eat Thai, Thai Eatery in the former King & I in West Des Moines. That long-running café was owned by Mao Heinemann, who moved to central Iowa after many years running Thai restaurants in Seattle… Door to Door Grocery began home delivery of organic and natural foods in Des Moines… Linh Le and De Dang, former owners of Romance Café, opened Pho Vietnamese Cuisine in the food court of Kaleidoscope at the Hub… Christian Bordenaro (Bordenaro’s Pizza) and Darren Marasco opened Bordy’s Pizzeria at Drake, a 20-seater in the former Paul Revere’s Pizza venue on Forest… El Tapatio opened a 210-seat restaurant on EP True… Tacopocalypse owner Sam Auen announced a fall opening for his Crust Punk Pizza. Auen also was planning a Tacopocalypse in Coralville… Fareway announced a new store in Johnston on Merle Hay Road… Zombie Burger + Drink Lab opened a second store, located in Jordan Creek Mall’s food court.

The Bad News

Longtime Donut King owner Lou King closed his iconic café temporarily to recover from an accident… Little Morocco closed its bakery shop in the Shops at Roosevelt… A Dong suffered a fire, allegedly caused by cooking stock — a rare instance when water starts fire rather than puts it out. The bad luck restaurant was previously seized by eminent domain near the freeway, just months before their mortgage was paid off. It will be closed two to three months… George Hatzigiannakis closed Mr. Filet after 48 years downtown… 515 Salvadoran Café and Nightclub shuttered its place on Eighth Street in West Des Moines… Across the street, Raul’s closed its Eighth Street store… Limey’s closed, leaving metro Des Moines without an Aston Villa bar.


Big changes are coming to the southwest L at First and Grand in West Des Moines. A massive storm sewer project and two large new developments could displace many businesses. True Value and Blue Tomato are not moving, but a new Auto Zone will be where Long John Silver’s used to be, and a Dollar Tree moves into The Nosh venue… Trostel’s Dish added a 45-seat patio… Irina’s began featuring monthly Russian Nights. Another special event at that Hickman restaurant featured a whole, 42-pound smoked crocodile and real turtle soup… The Cozy Café on Westown Parkway was listed for sale… Susan Stapleton from Las Vegas was named the new head food writer for The Des Moines Register, replacing Jennifer Mitchell Miller who resigned and took a job in the insurance industry. The Register’s Datebook Diner Carlos Acevedo also stepped down… Darren and Sherry Warth bought out partners Shad and Angie Kirton of Smokey D’s… Tony Lemmo announced that his Café di Scala will close on New Year’s Day, after 10-plus years. Lemmo said he will reopen with a new name — Aposto — and concentrate on special events. There will still be monthly dinners on first Saturdays and monthly brunches, too. James Beard Award Top 20 Chef in the Midwest Phil Shires will remain… Kris Van Tuyl, former Food and Beverage Director of the Holiday Inn Downtown and Luna Bistro owner, took a job as the General Manager of Django… Perkup Cafe moved to 2700 University in West Des Moines… Beerhouse moved to distinguish itself from its previous identity as Overtime, with former Raccoon River Brewing Company chef Brian Manning redesigning the menu.

Honors & Accolades

Darren Warth (Smokey D’s) won the grand championship at the American Royale BBQ competition, one of the big three in America… Buck Creek Hops, Iowa’s largest hops farm, harvested 25,000 plants on 25 acres this fall. Whole flower hops, the sine qua non of great pale ales, are a rare ingredient in the Midwest because of the lack of availability… Russell Melby of Ames was named the 2015 winner of the World Food Prize’s Robert Ray Humanitarian award for his work feeding the poor and raising funds… Thrillist named Toppling Goliath of Decorah Iowa’s best brewery. RELISH

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Categories: The Dish

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