Bruce Gerleman, the owner of the locally famous and popular Jethro's BBQ chain, has locations in West Des Moines, Waukee, Des Moines, Altoona, Ankeny, and Johnston, with a couple other non-Jethros restaurants in the mix too.
However, it appears his latest restaurant in Ames leaves the biggest Jethro-sized foot print of all.
Billed as the largest "sports bar" in the Big 12 Conference (presumably, of the ten college towns that are part of the conference), the new location has opened in what used to be an Aldi's grocery store near the movie theatre off Duff Avenue. There is ample parking.
I was in Ames to get my haircut at Tommy's Salon and thought I would give the new Jethro's a try. I have been to most of the others in the Des Moines metro area and my favorite is the Bacon and Bacon restaurant off of 22nd/86th in West Des Moines, mostly because it serves breakfast all day.
As you walk in, other than the shear size of the place, it has the same look and feel of most of the other Jethros. Given the explosive growth in students at Iowa State and the significant Cyclone support in the community, I believe there was a need for another reasonably priced dining option that also could accommodate large quantities of diners, especially on days and nights when there are home basketball or football games.
Even with the large quantity of seating, they are still planning for the potential of wait times and have a significant area with benches devoted to those who need to wait for a table.
Smartly, they have loaded the place up with big televisions, including many around the large-scale bar.
Much of the menu had a lot of similarities to what you might see at other Jethro's throughout the metro. However, each Jethro's has a unique twist. For example, this one specializes in steaks and pork chops. Those menu items were, as you might expect, somewhat pricier. Generally, most menu items are on par for what you would expect at a sports bar in a midwest college town. I didn't go too crazy, and stuck with the "Better Homes & Gardens" melt with a baked potato. It was quite good.
Overall, I am glad to see Jethro's BBQ is in Ames. Iowa State students are clearly benefiting from the added job opportunities and the locals and visiting fans have another fun dining experience to consider.
Check out the restaurant's Facebook and website for more information.