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The Dish

Coke and Pepsi flop in outer space


40 “Women to Watch” in hospitality

August was a bitter time for local restaurant lovers. Three beloved, old-school cafés closed. They were Italian American classics and will not be easily replaced. Noodles, a southside icon with a huge crowd of golden-aged fans, closed because it was time to retire for owner Pete Leonetti. Pat Renda of Orlondo’s told mostly the same story. Mama Lacona’s also threw in the towel. All three restaurants had ties of several generations to the founders of Des Moines’ Italian-American heritage, and all will be missed. Bruce Gerleman (Splash, Jethro’s) bought the Orlondo’s property and hoped to be open there by Thanksgiving, after remodeling and doubling the seating capacity and adding a roof garden.

Elsewhere, Proof’s new owners hoped to be open by publication time. Former owner Sean Wilson began a job with Justice League for Food, as culinary director… Pho Real Restaurant and Bar opened on Fourth Street downtown with vegan and late night options… Marc Navailles, the Basque chef who recently closed Al Punto Argentine Café in Windsor Heights, took over the kitchen of Nomad… Burger King doubled down on the surprising success of its new vegan product Unbelievable Burger with a national release and giant ad campaign… Jacob Demars, formerly head of the kitchens at Marlene’s and Trostel’s Dish, is opening his own place in the former Baru 66… GroVer Flavors closed in Van Meter after three years… Mama Mia’s pizza opened on the skywalk… Wasabi opened an Ankeny café… Kyle Cabbage became wine master at Grand Junction.


Nestle announced that its partnership with Starbucks, less than a year old, has already launched 24 new food products. Many are geared toward the vegan burger and ancient grains trends… Coke and Pepsi were both taste-tested in simulations of outer space. The verdict was that they both sucked because there is no refrigeration in outer space.



Iowa Restaurant Association released its inaugural list of 40 “Women to Watch” in hospitality. The honorees hail from nearly every segment of the industry — from purveyors and entrepreneurs to chefs and business development professionals.

“Women are building meaningful careers in every segment of the restaurant industry, and the numbers back that up,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. “From restaurant ownership to full-time sales and management, to flexible hour part-time positions, women are charting their own paths in the hospitality sector.”

Dunker added that 58 percent of foodservice supervisors and 49 percent of foodservice managers are women — far above the averages in nearly every other industry. The local women to be honored included:

•Blanca Plascencia, El Fogon, West Des Moines
•Cassandra Rodish, Fuel’d Café, Des Moines
•Christina Moffatt, Crème Cupcake Dessert, Des Moines
•Darian Everding, London Underground, Ames
•Fabiola Carlin, Panka Peruvian Restaurant, Des Moines
•Gwen Page, Fong’s Pizza, Des Moines
•Hanna Burkle, Rolling Smoke Barbeque, Pleasant Hill
•Jamie Skinner, Molly’s Cupcakes, Iowa City and Des Moines
•Joni Bell, Great Caterers of Iowa, Inc., Pleasant Hill
•Chef Karla Boetel, Iowa Culinary Institute at DMACC, Ankeny
•Karla Walsh, Food and Lifestyle Writer, Des Moines
•Kate Willer, Bubba Southern Comforts, Des Moines
•Kerri Rush, Fresh Café and Market, Carlisle
•Lauren Doll-Sheeder, Doll Distribution, Des Moines
•Linda Funk, The Soyfoods Council, Ankeny
•Chef Lisa LaValle, Trellis Café, Des Moines
•Liz Ramey, Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, West Des Moines
•Martha McAninch, Gusto Pizza Company, Des Moines
•Michelle Booth, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, West Des Moines
•Natasha Sayles, Winefest Des Moines, Des Moines
•Sara Hill, The Hare and The Hound, Earlham
•Sarah Pritchard, Table 128 Bistro and Bar, Clive
•Stacy Wertzberger, Iowa State University, Ames
•Taylor Weiss, Crème Cupcake + Dessert, Des Moines
•Chef Terrie Kohl, Country Club Market, Clive

Honorees are featured in the summer issue of Food and Beverage Iowa Business Quarterly. ♦

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