With a really small population, it's safe to say that it would be a challenge for a town to support a restaurant with just the people living in the community. Luckily for the town of Morrison, the Morris Inn Steakhouse, a staple of Grundy County since the 1950s, draws hungry patrons from a wide radius to the town of just 94 residents.
Iowa Adventurer made his first ever stop in both the town and at their popular restaurant on a Saturday evening in late October of 2020.
Having traveled all over the state to small towns like Morrison that have a notable restaurant, it's not uncommon to find that the population will swell considerably on a weekend night during dinner hours. It's evident when you see the street near the restaurant filled with cars.
Walking into the white and green building, you enter a smaller room that includes a fully stocked bar. A few people were hanging there on this particular evening waiting for their carry out orders. As you can see, the kitchen is accessible through a window and several orders were about to head out.
Since my visit was around Halloween, the decor matched the season. However, the walls were also covered in a number of pictures, presumably of the Morrison of yesteryear.
It wouldn't be a popular small town restaurant without a wall or bulletin board filled with event announcements, business cards, and other pertinent information.
For those dining in, there is a sizable room with tables and booth that can accommodate a wide range of party sizes.
The walls are similarly covered in old pictures, soft lighting, and some wooden paneling. I got almost a "Supper Club" vibe to the place.
There's also a few animals on the walls and, since we're in a global pandemic, even they had to wear their masks.
On Saturday evenings, they offer a prime rib or sirloin steak special at a very reasonable price.
They also had some other food and drink specials that evening.
However, their entire menu is online and it is very much like what you'd expect from a high quality rural Iowa establishment. It appears they have a lunch menu and based on what I've seen on their Facebook page, they also have regular specials and wow do many of them look good.
Someone obviously has a sense of humor as they list some options as "life extender" choices. As such, that's just a creative way of saying they are probably healthier options.
I decided to get the top sirloin dinner, which was the special for the evening.
As they note, the special comes with homemade bread, some relish, and then your choice of vegetable and potato. The homemade bun was simply outstanding.
My steak was generous in size, cooked perfectly, and very tasty. The mixed vegetables and baked potato were my side choices and I had no complaints.
My service was great, the food was very prompt, and the prices seem to be very reasonable. I've already recommended it to others. The one thing to keep in mind before you visit is they only accept cash or check, so make sure you hit an ATM before hand if you are used to just running a credit or debit card. I'm sure it's their way of avoiding those credit card fees that cut into the already tight margins that most restaurants face.
Before I went into the restaurant, I actually drove around the town a bit to check it out before it got too dark. Next door to the restaurant is a light green building that serves as the town's "city hall".
Across the street is a park with a few different amenities. There's some playground equipment, basketball court, and a small shelter house with a large orange Adirondack chair. I didn't discover until later that the chair actually has the town name on it and would be a good photo opportunity.
Morrison is also home to the Grundy County Heritage Museum. This is a sizeable campus with several different buildings. Before coming to town, I would have guessed this might have instead been in Grundy Center, but it's quite a nice set up. I've added this to my running Grundy County list of places to visit.
The Grundy County Conservation Board also has a building on the campus.
There's a few other businesses in town, including The Rusty Nail, which appears to be a home decor and furniture business. I'll have to stop in next time I'm in town. Unless Morrison decides to do something creative with their big orange chair, the town really does not have a "welcome sign" other than their green and white DOT sign. Since Iowa Adventurer is trying to get a picture with a town sign in all the towns in Iowa, I had to use the DOT sign. Perhaps the creative folks at The Rusty Nail can lead the way in getting something more creative designed for the town to erect at the entrances to the city?
Near the park is a self-storage building.
Along the blacktop that runs through town (Highway 175), there's a series of long brown buildings that appear to be connected to each other. I'm not sure what their present use is.
However, along the buildings is a recreational trail called the Pioneer Trail. It is maintained by the County Conservation Board. If it hadn't been so dark, I might have taken a walk on the trail after eating so much food at the Morris Inn.
Cooley Pumping, a septic service company, also has a decent sized presence in town.
There are a few other businesses or industrial-type buildings in town as well.
Of course, agriculture is the lifeblood of Grundy County and Richter Farms has a large set up on the edge of town.
I found a neat old church building but I'm not sure if it is still in use as a church. Either way, it could use a paint job and I hope it can be preserved as it's a neat looking building.
There is a varying array of nice single family houses in town.
You could build a whole half of a day of adventures (or possibly more!) with a visit to Morrison. You could stop into the Rusty Nail, wander the museum and its grounds, get some exercise on the trail, get a photo in the big orange chair, and then top it off with a visit to the outstanding Morris Inn. Who says you need to go off to somewhere to have a great day? There's adventures everywhere around you, including a town of less than 100 people, in Grundy County Iowa. I enjoyed my visit to Morrison and especially to the Morris Inn. I'll certainly be back and of course have much more to see and do in Grundy County as a whole.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Grundy County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.