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”.