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Checkerboard Restaurant in Pleasantville going sturdy as fiftieth anniversary nears

Handle: 108 E. Monroe St., Pleasantville

Cellphone: (515) 848-3742

Web site: checkerboardrestaurant.internet

What began out as a joke between associates about beginning a pizza restaurant has grow to be an anchor in Pleasantville for greater than 4 a long time.

After the laughs subsided, Ron and Karen Payment determined that perhaps opening a pizza place of their small city of Pleasantville wasn’t as loopy because it sounded. With the assistance of family and friends, together with their daughter Rhonda (who was 12 years outdated on the time), the Charges opened the Checkerboard Pizza Shack in 1975.

“The identify took place from the red-and-white checkered tablecloths and curtains,” mentioned Rhonda, who’s now Rhonda Zimmerman after getting married and can be the present proprietor of the restaurant since 2010.

To start with, the Payment household operated the enterprise in a rented constructing and centered on pizza and arcade video games. (It was, in any case, the Seventies.) At first, Ron tried working his day job after which working the restaurant at evening, nevertheless it wasn’t lengthy earlier than he needed to run the enterprise full-time because it shortly took off.

“We relied on household and associates at first as a result of we couldn’t afford to rent folks,” mentioned Zimmerman. “We had been lucky that our household and associates labored for meals.”

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A 12 months after opening, the household had the chance to buy two buildings throughout the road from their present location. They shut down operations for six weeks, and Ron transformed the outdated constructing into the present restaurant.

“As our enterprise grew, we expanded the menu and determined that we had been going to alter our identify to Checkerboard Restaurant,” mentioned Zimmerman.

The Western theme may be seen all over the place from the decor, together with wagon-wheel lights and Karen’s antiques like Roy Rogers memorabilia, to the names of the meals they now serve, from the “Path Starters,” which embrace their well-known home made onion rings, to Ronnie’s Wild West Dinners to their pizzas, which have been rebranded as “Corral Pies.”

To say the Checkerboard is a household affair is placing it mildly. Although Zimmerman bought the enterprise, her mother and father nonetheless proceed to work there. You possibly can often discover Ron within the again making pizzas and Karen on the money register.

“It is a enterprise that wouldn’t have been profitable with out the assistance of household,” mentioned Zimmerman.

Ron and Karen’s mother and father, siblings, youngsters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have all helped out on the restaurant sooner or later. And Rhonda really met her husband Marty Zimmerman on the restaurant, which additionally supplied the right venue to change vows. Sure, they acquired married within the restaurant.

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Zimmerman admits that issues haven’t been simple the previous few years. Like many small companies, they’re battling provide shortages, rising prices and protecting workers. Nonetheless, she stays optimistic. “We hope to make it to our fiftieth (anniversary), which might be in July of 2025.”

Distance from Downtown Des Moines: 27 miles

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

Youngsters: Search for the “For the Little Cowpokes” part on the menu. Grandson Noah recommends the rooster fingers, whereas Ethan suggests the mini corn canine.

Stoplight: The Charges wish to brag that the very first stoplight in Pleasantville was put in outdoors the Checkerboard on Oct. 27, 1984. The sunshine is definitely used to point out whether or not or not there’s a wait to be seated, though the menu admits, “To this point no tickets have been issued for strolling via a purple gentle.”

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Recollections: Mike Payment, Ron and Karen’s son, was part of the restaurant till his demise at age 27 in a automotive accident. The household continues to maintain his reminiscence alive along with his photograph and memorabilia on the restaurant.

Whereas You’re There: It’s possible you’ll not notice that the very first Smokey Row Espresso Co. was in Pleasantville – and it’s nonetheless there. Head downtown and you’ll’t miss it. Seize your favourite espresso drink or lunch and a deal with on the old style soda fountain earlier than heading to the Checkerboard for dinner. You could possibly additionally go to the Grape Escape Winery & Vineyard for a tasting of their tank room or beneath the gazebo.

This text initially appeared on Des Moines Register: Checkerboard in Pleasantville going sturdy as fiftieth anniversary nears