I've become a fan of Iowa Public Television's (IPTV) recently launched new show: "Iowa Entrepreneur". Each episode is approximately 30 minutes and that is split, usually, between two different Iowa entrepreneurial success stories.
Earlier this winter, IPTV featured Rodney's Kitchen which is located in downtown Waterloo. After watching the segment, I immediately added it to my list of upcoming adventure stops. Not only did the food look delicious but the story was quite astonishing as well.
I certainly hope that in addition to reading this story that you will watch the 10+ minute segment on Rodney's Kitchen that is embedded below. It will do a much better job of culminating why this restaurant has become such a success.
As you'll learn in the video, or from their website, Rodney started as a dishwasher in restaurants on the east coast where he is originally from, worked his way up to becoming part of the kitchen prep team, went to culinary school, moved to Iowa, experienced some personal tragedies, including the murder of a close relative, overcame homelessness, got an opportunity in someone's restaurant which lead to him taking over the business, and then finally culminated with opening his own carry out kitchen and re-launching in his current downtown spot. All the while, he's become a local hero for his efforts to give back to the community.
On a recent Saturday swing through Northeast Iowa, I stopped in for lunch. Though the place was not very busy, I found the service to be quite friendly. Even better, the food was promptly served and it was as good as advertised. From what I gather, patrons can expect regular modifications to the menu but certain items, like the Brisket Burger, are staples.
I ordered the Brisket Burger and substituted in some potato salad instead of the fries. My sandwich was a bun with a burger, some strips of brisket on top of that, cheese, onions, and some barbeque sauce. It was quite a tasty mouthful. Very delicious. The potato salad was mustard based and very well seasoned.
The restaurant is nicely decorated and not overly busy with clutter, which I appreciated. There were some nice pendent lights, a big B and K balloon, and some different grey scale photos on the wall, which appeared to be personal in nature.
After lunch, I took a stroll down to the picturesque river front, which is only a block or two from where Rodney's restaurant is located. Waterloo has done a nice job putting together a narrative about the history of the area. There are several sign posts with information as well as a nice Vietnam veterans monument.
Obviously, there is so much more to do and see in Waterloo and I will make return trips. However, be sure to check out Rodney's website to learn more and see his full menu. It's worth the stop next time you are in the Cedar Valley.