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BY MIKE AVITT
I see where Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently had supper at Rumors in Mount Ayr. While she was dining in Mount Ayr, I was dining in Des Moines.
About 6 weeks ago, I met a man named Butch and he gave me Des Moines restaurant memorabilia like matchbooks, coasters, and swizzle sticks. One of his favorite past Des Moines restaurants is Millie’s, a tenderloin hotspot. He had extra items from Millie’s, so I got a menu, placemat, and coffee cup from the former cafe. I collect paper advertising so I was happy to get them.
Darcy Maulsby asked my permission to use one of my matchbooks in her book, “Classic Restaurants of Des Moines and their recipes.” The matchbook features a picture of Alfonse “Babe” Bisignano, owner of Babe’s Restaurant in Des Moines. A relative of Babe’s, Chuck Bisignano, opened Chuck’s Italian Restaurant in north Des Moines in 1956. I have eaten at Chuck’s several times.
I lived in Des Moines from 1998 to 2000 and dined at several popular restaurants that are gone now. Helen and Pat’s Cavatelli, Porky’s Diner, Mustard’s Last Stand, La Pizza House, Jimmy’s American Cafe, Shangri-La, The Royal Fork, Big Daddy’s BBQ, and others. I remember eating many a breakfast at Dahl’s (grocery store) lunch counter. Dahl’s is gone now as well.
I’ve also been to George the Chili King, Iowa Beef Steakhouse, Polito’s La Pizza House, Palmer’s Deli, Smitty’s, Country Home Buffet, Ryan’s Buffet, Bordenaro’s, Ted’s Coney Island, Snookie’s, A. K. O’Conner’s, Zombie Burger, P. F. Chang’s, Iowa Machine Shed, and a hundred others.
The first restaurant I ate at in Des Moines was Bishop’s Buffet. I remember the family going to Des Moines after church one Sunday just to eat at Bishop’s. Bishop’s is gone now along with Younker’s Tea Room, Wimpy’s, Baker’s Cafeteria, Johnny’s Vet Club, Gino’s, and a hundred others.
There are still many traditional restaurants in Des Moines still cooking. I’m going by memory so I might be wrong on couple, but I believe Christopher’s, Noah’s Ark, Tursi’s Latin King, Baratta’s, Chuck’s Italian (although they are closed for remodeling), and Chicago Speakeasy, Bordenaro’s, and Snookie’s are still open. I believe Mama Lacona’s closed recently. I ate there, too.
I collect business cards, menus, coasters, matchbooks, placemats, ticket stubs, bank checks, sports schedules, photographs, calendars, brochures, and other things I don’t have room for. So if you have paper to unload, send me an email.