There's a surprise along Highway 61 in Mediapolis, Iowa. The building at 213 Wapello Road houses a hidden gem. It's the 61 Chop House.
"When people come in, hopefully I give them the wow-factor with the menu," said owner Terry Reis.
Reis is a certified executive chef with decades of restaurant experience in urban centers reaching from Florida to California. Now, he's finding roots in southeast Iowa.
"This is a little bit different than the big city," he said.
But he's cooked delicious dishes here since 2009. He serves them with flair and a smile, one plate at a time.
"That's awesome," said customer Carla Menees. "For a little town like this to have something like that, I think it's really great."
Terry's wife, Lori Denney, returned home to Iowa.
"We have a lot more say when it's your own business and your own restaurant," she said.
She created an upscale setting with a down-home feel. From colorful designs to the inviting atmosphere, there's no place like home.
"We just added a lot of color and paint," she said. "Really making it warm and inviting for folks to come in."
It's a small town business with big city taste. The 61 Chop House is finding a home in Mediapolis with visitors and locals.
"To not only have mom-and-pop and the whole thought of supporting local, it's like world class food, too," said customer John Witte.
Customers pick grilled favorites for a lunch treat.
The 61 Chop House opens at 11 for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. The kitchen remains open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
"Going to have one of those famous burgers, the Black Crown," a customer said.
Yes, the Angus Black Crown Burger, served with a special beer-cheese sauce.
"Colby Jack cheese with pepper in it," said Terry. "And there's thick apple wood smoked bacon on top of it."
This culinary masterpiece was voted "Best Burger" in 2013 by the Iowa Beef Council.
"There it is, the Angus Black Crown Burger," Terry said.
"It is big, and it is good," Menees continued. "I love it. It's juicy."
"I like the cheese melted all over it like that, with the bacon on there," added customer Nick Huston. "I like anything with bacon."
There's creative cooking and inventive ideas. These are mom-and-pop recipes for the 21st century.
"You have to keep items fresh," Lori said. "You need to give people what they want.
There's a friendly staff that's ready to offer fine food.
"It's very nice in here," said customer Steve Nienhaus.
It's just the right combination for Mediapolis, population 1,500.
"We've got something wonderful right here," Carla said.
"As long as the community will have us, we'll be here," Lori concluded.