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!