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Old 08-30-2007, 10:09 PM
6 posts, read 28,720 times
Reputation: 12


Hi all -

I'm a small-time entrepreneur with business in the Pacific. But I want to spread my wings and now have my sights set on Iowa where I attended ISU. I left Iowa over seven years ago and I'm certain things have changed since then. So I have several friends still in Iowa, some business owners themselves, that I've been bothering more and more to get a better idea of how successful small business is in Iowa.

I plan to open a restaurant, probably in the West Des Moines or Urbandale area where business and population seem to be growing and diversifying. The restaurant concept is something completely new to Iowa and the general Midwest. I don't plan on permanently living in Iowa. Instead, I would like to find a competent, creative, honest team of locals to handle the restaurant's daily operations. I am networking to find managers, chefs, cooks, possibly a design team (architect, interior designer, graphic designer -- I have a design solutions company already but we don't operate in Iowa), a real estate agent, and business lawyer. Additionally and equally important, I'm looking for local farmers, preferably organic, that could supply our restaurant with fresh ingredients. I want this to be an integral and considerate community effort; not a random fast food chain.

Since I am in the research and development phase, I would appreciate any advice, figures, and leads about Iowa restaurant biz. Every state has its own rules and I definitely want to be on the right side of the law and get in the game with odds on my side. I'm here to learn so if you know anything I need to know, please let me know!

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Old 08-31-2007, 01:15 PM
14 posts, read 31,974 times
Reputation: 11
Opening a restaurant in West Des Moines will cost you more then Urbandale. Plus lots of newer restaurants in West Des Moines due to Jordan Creek Mall. Urbandale currently has 34 restaurants and West Des Moines seem to come by the 100's
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:27 PM
36 posts, read 175,978 times
Reputation: 16
Have you taken a look at other thriving communites in central Iowa?

Restaurants seem to do quite well in Ames and there are still niche's in the smaller towns that need to be filled.

You might get more perspective from the locals at HeyIowa.com (http://www.heyiowa.com/forum - broken link)
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Old 09-03-2007, 08:27 PM
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,834,759 times
Reputation: 446
I suggest looking other places than West Des Moines or Urbandale. Both seem rather "played out" with restaurants and I'm not sure the suburbs would support such a venture.

I would look instead at locations closer to downtown...particularly in the East Village area (between the river and the Capitol Building). Downtown living is really taking off in Des Moines, and the downtown has a huge number of office workers looking for restaurants within walking distance--especially good places to go after 5. That neighborhood definitely seems to be the "it" neighborhood in Des Moines right now...much more so than WDM or Urbandale.

Here's some links to groups and forums that may be able to help further!
Greater Des Moines Partnership
City of Des Moines
absoluteDSM.com :: Index
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:14 PM
6 posts, read 28,720 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks! All helpful tips. Thanks so much.

As a young, modern professional, I would need the support of a rather progressive and like-minded community. Not sure if Iowa abounds in those departments. I attended ISU and definitely like the appeal of the college town. But I think, having a young family myself, I would be more keen to living in a metro suburb like somewhere in DSM.

Does anyone know of any entrepreneurs that would like to discuss this further?
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:36 PM
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,194,090 times
Reputation: 184
You might check in with these folks: The "New Iowa" Entrepreneurs' Meetup Group (Des Moines, IA) - Meetup.com Obviously, they are more interested in face-to-face than internet but maybe you could make some contacts through this group.

The Leopold Center at ISU is great, too, with regard to sustainable agriculture, and you expressed an interest in working with local producers: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

A report on labor issues in the restaurant industry and another group that can help explore business opportunities: Iowa Small Business Development Centers (broken link)
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