The history of Jethro’s BBQ
The 20 steps Jethro took to make history

As the legend of Jethro’s BBQ grows you must travel back in time to understand why and how a BBQ restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa has become “World Famous” in just five short years.

The creator, founder and owner of Jethro’s, Bruce Gerleman began his career with a marketing degree from Wichita State University. He used that degree to garner a marketing position selling mattresses and sofas by the truckload to retail furniture stores. He became the top mattress salesman in the country as he put together media campaigns to promote his products and then trained the store’s sales staffs in the art of sales. He used the money he made to buy apartment buildings with a goal of buying at least one per year. At 26, he owned enough apartments to quit the mattress job and because of important tax law incentives he began working full time saving historic buildings. He bought historic mansions, warehouses, train stations, abandoned hotels and renovated them according to the US Department of Interiors standards for Certified Historic Renovations. The process was very detailed work, but it was profitable. He eventually brought back to life and converted over 20 buildings into office buildings, retail centers and restaurants in the Court Avenue District and Grand Avenue areas of Des Moines. One of his projects was the eleven story International Trade Center of Iowa a member of the World Trade Center Association. The building was Iowa’s first smart building and is still the fiber optic hub for the State today. His attention to detail and flair for design earned him a national reputation as he accomplished other renovation projects in Wichita, Savannah, Key Largo, Florida and Denver. The Iowa Jaycees named Bruce the 1986 “Young Iowan of the Year”.

The year was 1998. Bruce decided that what Des Moines needed was a fine dining fresh seafood restaurant. He opened Splash Seafood Bar & Grill in his Historic Homestead Building at 3rd and Locust. Splash serves jet fresh seafood flown in from Hawaii, Seattle and Boston and features one of the Midwest’s premier wine list. Splash has gained a national reputation as a destination for foodies that enjoy fine dining, superb service and some of the most innovative seafood preparations found anywhere between the coasts. Featuring the same attention to detail that ensured the success of his Historic Renovation projects, Splash has been awarded the WINE SPECTATOR AWARD OF EXCELLENCE fourteen consecutive years and the DISTINGUISHED RESTAURANTS OF NORTH AMERICA AWARD six consecutive years.

In the year 2007, the Splash Oyster Bar was built in the Homestead Building. The restaurant features oysters caught in the cold, clear waters of the Pacific Northwest and Prince Edward Island. The Oyster Bar also offers the largest selection in the Midwest of caviars from around the world. It is Iowa’s first and only Oyster/Caviar Bar.

With this background, Bruce’s youngest daughter Anna, moved to Austin, Texas to go to school and to eventually become a neonatal flight nurse. While visiting Anna, they ate at many of the famous BBQ restaurants throughout Texas. After one such trip, he returned to Des Moines and said to

Splash Chef, Dominic Iannarelli, “we should open a BBQ restaurant”. Within three days, Bruce made an offer to buy Thode’s Sporting Goods, a historic brick building next to the Drake campus and then began the process of getting the necessary permits to open a new restaurant. Drake University had designs of their own on that site as they wanted to construct a new entryway into campus. After battling each other for over a year in various public hearings, zoning board meetings and with the threat of district court looming, a compromise was reached at a meeting wherein the University agreed to trade their building at 3100 Forest Avenue that housed the Des Moines Police Department to Bruce, in exchange for the Thode’s building.

Finally, with a location now secure Bruce and Dominic began the process of conceptualizing a restaurant unlike any other in the country. A 25 mile bicycle ride was the incubator that produced the name. As Bruce cycled along, he knew he was searching for a strong, one word name, catchy, but not necessarily food related, a name that would stick in people’s minds and tell a bigger story. A name that would be easy to remember and difficult to forget. A name that said so much, but actually said so little. As he cycled along, he cycled through a list of potential names… Cookies, Daisy’s, Hollywoods, Bubbas, Rowdy’s, and then…. when the name Jethro popped into his head, he knew the search for a name was over!

The purchase of a 750 lb. capacity wood fired smoker inspired Dominic to begin testing dozens of different recipes and BBQ rub sauces. Week after week went by as these recipes were perfected and tested on Splash employees and customers. In the Splash kitchen were born all of the amazing recipes for the side dishes that are made from scratch daily. They are the homemade recipes that make Jethro’s food so delicious. The motto of Jethro was born in those early days, as he promised himself that he would always serve large portions of his ‘Amazing Slow Smoked Meats’ and that he would never, ever, serve food from a can.

Meanwhile, on February 1, 2008 the Police Department had moved out and Bruce began reconstructing the building. The design goal was to capture the feeling of eating in a barn. The entertainment goal was to provide a “rock n’ roll” sports bar with enough big screen TV’s and satellites so that Jethro could watch every NFL game being played in the nation at one time. The service goal was to capture that feeling of eating around the campfire on a cattle drive in the 1880’s …. The colorful metal plates and cups were carefully chosen to replicate the sounds and appearance of that era. The construction of the restaurant was completed in a world record 78 days. Blake Wenzel was named the first general manager of Jethro’s BBQ and he along with Smoke Master, Mike Booth, opened Jethro’s BBQ at 3100 Forest Avenue on April 20, 2008, just in time for the 99th running of the Drake Relays. “Jethro’s Your Drake Neighborhood Sports Bar”, had been brought to life.

Jethro’s was an instant success and gained national fame. People from both the East and West Coast soon heard about Jethro’s BBQ. Bruce thought for a little bit more and went down to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office and incorporated Jethro’s BBQ, Inc. Jethro was now, officially an Iowa corporation, and that is a good thing.
Jethro has a rule that he doesn’t have partners or do partnerships, but he broke his own rule when he became a strong partner of Drake University and Drake Athletics. Jethro loves the Bulldogs. As a sign of his affection, he had a large blimp built with his name and the Drake Bulldog logo on it. The blimp flies around inside the arena for all Drake sporting activities and drops coupons on the hungry students and fans. The students love Jethro’s! As a sign of their affection, they wear blue t-shirts to all the games with the Drake logo on the front and a picture of Jethro along with one of his many sayings on the back, i.e.

Jethro Says… “Make sure your brain is running before putting your mouth in gear.”

Jethro Says… “A laugh and a smile, are worth a mile.”

Jethro Says… “Let your enthusiasm explode into passion.”

Jethro Says… “Empty wagons make the most noise.”

Jethro Says… “Still water runs deep.”

Jethro Says… “Cease to complain.”

Jethro Says… “Excuses are like armpits, they all stink.”

Jethro Says… “Inches make a champion.”

Jethro Says… “Life is order on the edge of chaos.”

Jethro Says… “Quality is economy.”

Jethro Says… “There is never a right way to do the wrong thing.”

Jethro Says… “It is easier to lose, than to win.”

On another day in 2008, Jethro’s BBQ learned it had been chosen as one the 100 BEST BBQ RESTAURANTS IN AMERICA. A book had been written about all of the great BBQ restaurants in the country, included in the book was the story of Jethro’s BBQ, in Des Moines, not yet even one year old.

On a day in 2009, Jethro opened BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS MAGAZINE and found out he had been chosen as it’s favorite BBQ sandwich. That was the day the ‘Better Homes and Garden Melt Sandwich’ was born, and enshrined on the menu.

One day in 2010, a man named Adam Richman from Travel Channel’s MAN VS. FOOD show called and said he wanted to take the ‘ADAM EMMENECKER CHALLENGE’ on national TV. The 5 pound sandwich was created in honor of the famous Drake basketball player who led the school to the NCAA

“Big Dance” in 2008. Adam Emmenecker sat down with the menu and chose all of his favorite foods. Chef Dominic then built Adam’s favorites into the delicious, award winning sandwich that has become known worldwide. The show aired in October of 2010 to a national TV audience. Adam Richman could not eat the sandwich in 15 minutes and ‘Failed The Challenge’. Overnight, the sandwich gained international immortality! Families, food eaters, contestants and large groups of people travel from across the country and the world to Des Moines to attempt the Adam Emmenecker Challenge. Recently, a group of 20 traveled from the Ukraine to take ‘The Challenge’ as they crossed the country on a competitive food eating binge. THEY All FAILED! As of this writing, there have been only 13 that have conquered “The Challenge”, and there have be thousands that have tried. Pictures of the 13 have been enshrined onto the “Wall of Fame,” pictures of the failures are posted in the restaurants on the “Wall of Shame”. You can click on the link here to watch the show.*

Within a month or so, President Obama called Jethro and asked him to cater a backyard BBQ for some of his close friends here in Des Moines. Jethro opened up his kitchens and shared his secret recipes to the Secret Service as they inspected and tasted the food to make sure that it was delicious and poison free. Everyone had a great time at the party, and Jethro was proud as he watched the helicopters flying overhead and the ninja dressed snipers hiding in the trees, as they made sure everyone behaved themselves, while the guest munched on the food, at The President’s Backyard BBQ.

It was a charity fundraising event, in the spring of 2010, that brought Bruce to Prairie Meadows horse track and casino for a Make A Wish event in Altoona. As he drove out of the parking lot, he looked across the street to see a vacant Godfather’s Pizza for sale. Within 3 days, he made an offer to buy the building. On June 3rd, 2010 reconstruction of the building into Jethro n’ Jake’s Smokehouse Steaks began. Bruce knew he didn’t want to open another restaurant with a menu exactly like Jethro’s. He did not want to compete with himself; he wanted something that would set this restaurant apart, make it different so that he could cross market and give his customers a reason to come to Jethro and Jake’s. The unique idea for smoked steaks was born. Chef Dominic learned to slowly smoke the steaks over hickory and oak wood at a 90 degree temperature, without actually cooking the meat. The process gives the meat that smoky campfire goodness, but yet, Dominic can still broil the steak to your perfection on his Jethro n’ Jake’s Fire Machine: rare, medium rare, medium or well done. Jethro n’ Jake’s Smokehouse Steaks, now in Altoona, still at Drake, opened 95 days later on September 6, 2010, proud to be the only restaurant in Iowa serving Campfire Smoked Black Angus Steaks. “Jethro n’ Jake’s Smokehouse Steaks, Your Altoona Neighborhood Sports Bar” was born.
Time passed… and in the spring of 2011, ESPN Sports called Jethro’s to inform him that THE ADAM EMMENECKER CHALLENGE had been nominated as the ‘ National Fanwich of the Year’. Jethro’s had been asked to compete with over 100 other sandwiches from around the nation, in a contest to determine the best and most famous sports sandwich in the country. The Tiger Woods, the Lebron James, the Bo Jackson, the Zach Johnson, the Jim Rome and the Ben Roethlisburger were all in the competition. THE ADAM EMMENECKER jumped into the lead after the first week of voting and never looked back. Jethro’s was leading the Nation in voting and making headlines throughout the Midwest. Jethro’s was enjoying 1,000 vote lead in the contest with three days left in the voting and then it happened! The restaurant and sandwich named after San Fransisco Giant pitcher, no hit throwing wonder, Matt Cain offered their customers two free sandwiches for every one sandwich they purchased, only if they brought along two friends and all voted. In the final three days, Jethro’s lost his 1,000 vote lead and ended as the ‘National Fanwich Runner Up’, losing by 1,000 votes.
Meanwhile, Bruce had been scouting the Western suburbs of Des Moines searching for another spot where there weren’t any other restaurants. Jethro always thinks it is smarter to build a restaurant where there isn’t any other. A lease was signed on August 9, 2011, for the building at 9350 University in West Des Moines. Construction of Jethro’s Jambalaya began the next day. An interesting national media story developed during the construction of the new restaurant as the old, used soybean oil from the kitchen fryers of Jethro’s was converted into bio-diesel and then it fueled the construction equipment building the restaurant. As always, Bruce envisioned something unique that would set this new restaurant apart. Chef Dominic began the work of creating his very own ‘Cajun Creole Creations’. Once again, the palates of the staffs at Splash and Jethro’s were put to the test, as they sampled and tested plate after plate of Jambalaya, Red Beans n’ Rice, Crawfish Etouffe, Spicy Chicken, Sausage Gumbo and Crispy Fried Alligator. The Team’s taste buds helped perfect the recipes. “Jethro’s Jambalaya, Your Waukee Neighborhood Sports Bar”, opened on December 6, 2011. The new restaurant served over 10,000 people in the first week, and then it got busy. Jethro’s Jambalaya Your Waukee Neighborhood Sports Bar. You can click on the link here to watch the story.*
While all of this was going on, MENS HEALTH MAGAZINE called one day to announce that Jethro’s BBQ had been nominated as one of the finalist for ‘The Manliest Restaurant in the Midwest’. Jethro’s would compete for the crown against four other semi-finalist from Kansas City, Chicago, Minneapolis and Nebraska. Readers and subscribers from around the country were choosing the ‘Manliest Restaurant’ in each region of nation. Over the next thirty days the votes rolled in, the fans and customers of Jethro’s organized, tweeted, posted, texted and voted to win the day and win the election. The December 2011 issue of MENS HEALTH MAGAZINE officially named Jethro’s BBQ as ‘The Manliest Restaurant in the Midwest’. When the editors called from New York City to interview Jethro, they asked , “what makes Jethro’s so Manly”? Jethro thought for a moment and answered…… “Jethro helps bring order to the chaos, that is the life, of the modern American man”

On December 6, 2011, with the title of ‘Manliest Restaurant in the Midwest’ firmly in hand, Jethro sat back and turned on his big screen TV to watch ‘THE FOOD PARADISE SHOW’ on THE TRAVEL CHANNEL. The premiere of the show was coincidentally on the same day that Jethro’s Jambalaya opened for business. It seems like there have been a lot of coincidences in the world of Jethro. The one hour special previewed the nine regional winners and then announced the winner of ‘The Manliest Restaurant in the Nation’. It was an incredible honor for Jethro’s BBQ to be listed among the nation’s elite, historic restaurants. But for Jethro’s, the other nine regional winners were all traditional, long established institutions that have been in business for decades or even a century. Jethro’s is just a toddler in comparison. When Primanti Brothers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was awarded ‘The Manliest Restaurant in the Nation’, Bruce clapped his hands and then wrote the Brothers a note of congratulations, as he loves their sandwiches and pizzas. Meanwhile, Jethro was so proud of his new title that he wrote the United States Office of Patents and Copyright and officially copyrighted the phrase, “MANLY MONDAYS”. Now men can come to Jethro’s on Mondays and enjoy Manly offerings created especially for Manly Men. You can click on the link here to watch the video. *

The year 2012 brought more awards and honors to Jethro’s as CITYVIEW READERS voted Jethro’s the Best BBQ in the City and for the first time ever, the Best Nacho’s in the City. But, the award that really excited Jethro was from the people of Des Moines, who voted his Wings, the Best in the City, for the third consecutive year. In fact, Jethro’s wings have become so popular and so many hungry people clamor for that wonderful, smoky taste, that Jethro decided to “come out” and go ‘Bi-Wingual’. That’s right! Jethro is now” Bi-Wingual!”Jethro has added Boneless Wings to his menu. Now you can enjoy them at all Jethro’s locations, Two for One Wings on Tuesdays and one/half price Boneless Wings on Thursdays. In the fall of the year Chef Dominic Iannnarelli was named Chef of the Year by Cityview Magazine and THE IOWA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION named Bruce Gerleman the Iowa Restaurateur of the Year.

The story continues… one night, as Jethro slept… he dreamed of a paradise where his family lived and fished every day on a lake full of walleye. Jethro awoke, and began exploring the north woods. His dream soon came true as he discovered a secluded lake, built his dream house, shot a moose, elk and mountain lion, then opened the doors to his very own Lake House, “Going North to Ankeny, going North the rush is on”. Jethro’s Lake House opened in fast growing, booming Ankeny in December 2012.

The 7,200 square foot Lake House is the first restaurant that Bruce has ever built from the ground up. As a matter of fact, when construction of the building began in the Ankeny Prairie Trail City Center subdivision, there were no roads, there were no utilities. It was a big field of prairie grass. Bruce was so excited with the opportunity and location that he travelled to the Georgetown district of Washington D.C.. There, he researched the design and construction techniques of the historic brick buildings built in the late 1700’s. Why? Because Jethro’s Lake House anchors the new City Center. The development will eventually include the new Ankeny City Hall, Library and over 500,000 square feet of office and retail space. Since Ankeny is a sprawling new suburb that sprang up almost overnight , there are no historic buildings to help the City retain an architectural connection and bridge to it’s past. Bruce has designed the Lake House to recall those historic buildings he saw in Georgetown that had been built and added onto through the decades . Thus, two distinctly different patios overlook a six acre lake built around a beautiful fire pit and community gathering area that all connect to a walking trail circling the lake. The 316 seat Lake House is the most spectacular and beautiful of all the Jethro’s. Once again, Jethro has found a location where there aren’t any other restaurants. Once again, Bruce has created a new restaurant with it’s own identity, as the Lake House features shrimp and salmon along with our World Famous BBQ and ‘ Cajun Creole Creations’. “Jethro’s Lake House Your Ankeny Neighborhood Sports Bar”.

January of 2013 brought more national and international exposure to Jethro”s, as THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL premiered their new series titled “The United States of Bacon”. To kick off the new season camera crews came to the heart of bacon country, Des Moines, Iowa and featured THE JETHRO SANDWICH at the Jethro’s Jambalaya location. Once again Jethro was in the National Spotlight as millions of viewers tuned in to see the beautiful skyline of Downtown Des Moines with Jethro’s BBQ superimposed. The Jethro Sandwich starts with our huge, big as a platter, pounded pork tenderloin, add a ½ pound of pulled pork, add a ½ pound of cherry smoked ham and top it all with 4 slabs of thick cut bacon. The sandwich is “Porktastic”. The show brought viewers behind the scenes, deep into our kitchen to watch our chefs prepare this delicious bacon and pork treat. Sales of the Jethro Sandwich doubled in the months following the premier. You can click on the link here on our website to watch the show and see all the fun our staff and guest enjoyed during the eating and filming. *

On another day, Bruce’s phone rang and it was Hollywood calling. That’s right, the story of Jethro’s BBQ had reached the West Coast. Developers invited Bruce to come out and look around for locations in California. So, Bruce packed his bags and headed West. There, he found a land of opportunity as there just are not any restaurants quite like Jethro’s BBQ in California. However, after analyzing the business climate in California… the taxes, the wages, the cost of land, the government regulations and the complex socialism that is the “left coast” Bruce went back home and realized that the “grass was not greener in sunny California”. On the flight back to Iowa, he repeated over and over… there is no place like home, there is no place like home.

The year 2013 also brought more awards and honors as the readers of Cityview voted Jethro’s tops in 7 different categories. At the awards ceremony the Jethro managers took home trophies for The Best BBQ, Best Wings, Best Nachos, Best Sports Bar, Best Onion Rings, Best American Food, Best Family Restaurant, Best Wait Staff and Best Restaurant.

Molly Schulyler, all 5’5″, 120 pounds of her electrified the State of Iowa when she crossed the border from her native Bellevue, Nebraska into Iowa to take on the Adam Emmenecker Challenge. The Challenge of course is to eat the 5 pound sandwich and waffle fries in 15 minutes or less. Thousands had tried, only 11 men had succeeded, before Molly became the first woman to devour this monster. Not only did she do it once, she did it four times. In a 10 day period, with an accompanying media entourage and frenzy, she took the Challenge, ate the sandwich and set the record at each of the 4 Jethro’s locations. At Jethro’s BBQ her time was 7 minutes 38 seconds, at Jethro’s Jambalaya her time was 7 minutes 42 seconds, at Jethro’s Lake House her time was 7 minutes 56 seconds and at Jethro’s Smokehouse Steaks she established a new world record of 7 minutes and 8 second before 100’s of her cheering fans. Then, in early January 2014, at the opening of the Pork Chop Grill Molly returned to claim a $1,000 prize as she shattered her previous world record and devoured the Challenge in 4 minutes and 40 seconds in front national media and 100’s more of her cheering fans. Finally, at the new Jethro’s Bacon Bacon in West Des Moines in February of 2016 after months of training Molly crushed the record in a time of 2minutes and 55 seconds, earning another $1,000 prize. Molly’s extraordinary feat prompted Bruce to raise the bar. If anyone can break Molly’s world record there is a $5,000 prize for doing so. Check out her videos and watch her eat by clicking on the several links here on our website. *
There are over 21,000,000 pigs in Iowa and more than 6,000 restaurants. Not one of those restaurants has ever paid homage to the pig the way in which the new Jethro’s BBQ n’ Pork Chop Grill does. Ground was broken on the new Pork Chop Grill in July of 2013. The new 6,500 square foot restaurant features pork chops from Iowa. There will be the State Fair Pork Chop, fried pork chops, smoked pork chops, pork chops on a stick, shake and bake pork chops, stuffed pork chops, blackened pork chops, a pork chop sandwich, a pork chop salad, pork chops for breakfast, pork chops for lunch, pork chops for dinner. There will be no chopped pork sooey. Jethro even wrote a pork chop cheer. That’s right, a Pork Chop Cheer, here it is….Pork Chop, Pork Chop, yours is greasy… we’ll beat your Chop, Easy, Easy! The 265 seat restaurant will also feature Jethro’s first wood fired grill. The flames and smoke from this fire machine will make things exciting as it will give the steaks and chops that campfire cooked taste. Also for the kitchen, Jethro has purchased two, 900 pound capacity smokers. Here, he can serve you all of his “Amazing Slow Smoked Meats” that have made him World Famous. As you read this, Chef Dominic and his team of chefs are hard at work experimenting, testing and creating the new flavors and recipes that will make your mouth water. The restaurant was under construction at 5950 86th Street in Johnston when a freak storm packing 80 MPH winds blew through the town and scattered the framing lumber like “pick up sticks”. Insurance covered the damage, but the storm delayed the restaurant several weeks. Jethro’s Pork Chop Grill opened on December 26, 2013. Once again Jethro has found a location where there are no other restaurants and Bruce has created a unique twist to his fine dining, BBQ, rock and roll sports bar concept . Our wonderful friends and guests are now able to enjoy another Jethro’s with its very own specialty and identity. We are excited to welcome you to “Jethro’s Pork Chop Grill, your Johnston Neighborhood Sports Bar”. Click on the link here to watch the story. *
Burbank, Rodeo Drive , Beverly Hills, The Slawson Cut Off, it all came true to life for Jethro when William Shatner called and invited Bruce and Chef Dom to be on his new TV show “Moving America Forward”. Mr. Shatner’s Show spotlights entrepeneurs that have prospered and helped move America forward during the midst of the great recession. Staying poolside at the Beverly Hills Hilton, hanging out with the Housewives of Beverly Hills in their poolside cabanas got Jethro excited. The Rolls Royce limousines with gold grills were gaudy and made Jethro feel funny. It was an eye opening experience as the boys from Iowa were called to the make- up room, dressed in their best flannel shirts and prepped on the art of movie making. The show was produced in one afternoon and features Mr. Shatner interviewing Bruce and Dom as they tell the story of Jethro success and explain the fact that Jethro is now the largest independent purchaser of pork in the State of Iowa. He buys in excess of 1,800,000 pounds per year. He also is the largest independent purchaser of soybean cooking oil in the State of Iowa. Bruce and Dom invited Mr. Shatner to visit Iowa and he has agreed to come visit. Click on the link here to watch the show. *
No, you are not seeing double. October of 2014 brought the opening of Jethro’s BBQ n’ Bacon Bacon in West Des Moines. The newest Jethro’s serves our wonderful BBQ and Breakfast Always. The menu features Buckets of Bacon, Hand carved Bacon Steak Sandwiches, Triple Bacon Burgers, Bacon wrapped ribs, Chocolate Covered Bacon, tator tot casserole and fresh orange juice as squeezed before your eyes in the amazing “Squeezerator”. Do you like your bacon crispy or squiggly? Jethro has discovered that Iowan’s are evenly split, just like the politics in our State. A Bourbon Bar featuring over 16 premium bourbons and Bloody Mary Bar make for happy times for our guest. Nothing goes better with BBQ and Bacon than Bourbon or Blood Mary’s. Bruce and Chef Dom dreamed of developing this concept for several years before they found this perfect, centrally located spot at 1480 22nd Street in West Des Moines (formerly home to Hooters). As the menu reads… “one night as Jethro listened to a far off owl “Hooting” his haunting cry, he followed the sound and found what he was searching for…the most convenient spot in the metro to build Bacon Bacon, his homage to breakfast.” Bruce ripped and tore everything out of the building including the sewers, plumbing, kitchen, electrical, walls, floor and ceilings. He then sterilized the building inside and out. Now it looks just like all the other Jethro’s with 22 bigger screened TV’s to make it a fun sports bar with rock and roll too. The 6,800 square foot building seats 260, including a private party room that seats 80 and a retail Bacon store that sells all things Bacony. Jethro sells his very own hickory and cherry wood smoked, thick cut bacon for you to take home. In the first two months of being open Jethro’s Bacon Bacon served over 5 tons of delicious Bacon. Jethro’s Bacon Bacon your West Des Moines Neighborhood Sports bar. Click on the link here to watch the story.*
The first known reference on our planet to a man named Jethro was in the OLD TESTAMENT. It seems the biblical Jethro married one of the daughters of Moses and spent the rest of his days being a good son in law, procreating, and then helping Moses lead the Jews to the “Promised Land”. The parting of the Red Sea was one of the highlights of his time on earth. There are 9 different references to the good works of Jethro in the OLD TESTAMENT, proving once again that it’s not what you know, but who you know and that you always want to stay on the good side of the people who buy their ink by the barrel. Yes, stay tuned to The Des Moines Register and look for more front page stories about Jethro’s BBQ. It appears there will be much more to come in 2017 and beyond . Who knew?
2017 brings a new chapter in the life of Jethro. Bruce has been searching in Ames for several years to find a new home for Jethro. Ames is of course home to Iowa State University and a lot of rabid Cyclone sports fans. What better city than to build the largest sports bar in the Big 12 Conference. Bruce has purchased the former Aldi’s grocery store next to the movie theaters on South Duff Avenue. The 16,000 square foot building will be converted into a new Jethro’s BBQ featuring all of our famous “Amazing Slow Smoked Meats” plus, steaks and pork chops. The restaurant will feature a giant banquet room that will seat over 300 for private parties. There will nothing else like it anywhere in Ames. Bruce is really excited about his giant parking lot that will make it easy for people to come and go. There will be over 30 big screen TV’s so Cyclone fans can watch all of their games. There will be lots of rock and roll music so the Cyclone fans can get their groove on too. The new Jethro’s will open in the summer of 2017.

Jethro’s BBQ, Your Cyclone Neighborhood Sports Bar.


Jethro was proud to have been voted the best BBQ and the best Wings in Des Moines by readers of Cityview in 2017. Jethro was also a finalist in the voting for best Nachos, best Ribs, best Onion Rings, best Wait Staff, best Tenderloin, best Drake restaurant and best American Restaurant. Thank you to our loyal guests and Cousins. If you do not have a Cousin Card yet, get one today. Lots of free food and rewards for our Cousins.

So which is it? Why has Jethro’s been able to grow from 0 to 700 employees in the last 8 years during the height of what some talking heads refer to as the Great Recession? Is it the delicious food? Or, is it the great service? It is both. It is the Team of people that greet you at the front door every day when you come for the fun, the familiarity, the food and the family that is Jethro’s. Bruce was and has always been an athlete and a coach. A coach teaches, a coach leads, a coach inspires, a coach fights for his Team, a coach rewards. Jethro’s has always provided 100% health care for all of it’s managers and pays for 50% of the health care cost for all hourly employees. Today that health care plan exceeds all requirements of Obama Care. All work and no play just does not work, so managers are scheduled for a 5 day work week and also share in a generous monthly profit sharing plan. The made from scratch recipes and the generous portions of “Amazing Slow Smoked Meats” served promptly, in a family friendly atmosphere reward our guests daily and consistently with incredible value . The array of sporting games and events on the many big screen TV’s entertain… all the while the rock and roll music playing in the background makes for a toe tapping, high energy good time. All of this inspiration, execution and philosophy adds up to Jethro being the “Funmeister”. Please, always have fun at Jethro’s BBQ, my gosh, we sure do. Thank you all for your support over the last eight years. Jethro is proud to be “Your Iowa Neighborhood Sports Bar.”

Remember: Jethro brings order to the chaos that is the life of the modern American.

Awards Gallery

Here are some of the many awards and recognition given to Jethro’s over the years. We are honored to be recipients of these great awards!

The Cousin Card
Earn 1 point for every $1 spent

Guests will earn $10 credit for every $100 spent on food, beverage and catering. There will be no credit earned on gift card and merchandise purchases. Credit will be accrued pre-tax and will not include any promo or comp values. Rewards will be available the next business day. This credit will be applied to any food, beverage or catering purchase on next the visit the guest uses their reward card. This credit will expire in 30 days from activation.
Guests using their registered rewards card on Monday will receive double value on all points earned for food, beverage or catering purchases, gift card and merchandise purchases do not apply. Rewards will be available the next business day. This credit will be applied to any food, beverage or catering purchase on next the visit the guest uses their reward card. This credit will expire in 30 days from activation.
Guests using their registered reward card between the hours of 2-4 pm, Monday-Friday will receive 25% off all food and beverage purchases. Catering, gift card and merchandise purchases do not apply. This credit will be automatically applied to all registered card holders at the point of purchase.
When a registered guest purchases any food item of $8.95 or more between the hours of 7am-2pm Monday-Friday, they will receive credit for a visit. After 6 visits the guest will recieve a credit of $9 added to their rewards card. Rewards will be available the next business day. This credit will be applied to any food purchase on next the visit the guest uses their reward card. This credit will expire in 30 days from activation.

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