Ankeny residents have seen Jethro’s BBQ Lakehouse going up in the city’s Prairie Trail development. They’ve heard the buzz around town.
Now, they can finally have a taste of what everyone’s been talking about.
Jethro’s BBQ LakeHouse, located at 1425 S.W. Vintage Parkway, officially opens at 11 a.m. today. The restaurant, dubbed “Your Ankeny Neighborhood Sports Bar” is the fourth Jethro’s location to open in the Des Moines metro, all owned by Bruce Gerleman, who also owns Splash Seafood Bar and Grill in downtown Des Moines.
But don’t expect your run-of-the-mill bar food when you go into Jethro’s.
WATCH: The Travel Channel "Man vs. Food's" Adam Richman take Jethro's "Adam Emmenecker Challenge"
“What we wanted to do was open a fine-dining, full-service barbecue restaurant that ties into a sports bar and rock and roll music,” said Gerleman, of Des Moines. “We haven’t found any other concept like this.”
Jethro’s BBQ first opened in the Drake area of Des Moines in 2008, followed by Jethro’s BBQ & Jakes’ Smokehouse in Altoona. The last location to open prior to Ankeny was Jethro’s BBQ ‘n Jambalaya in Waukee.
The Ankeny location will serve lunch and dinner every day of the week, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The 7,200-square-foot, Northwoods-inspired Jethro’s BBQ LakeHouse is cozied up next to a lake, the first business to go up in The District, a portion of Prairie Trail designed to be the go-to place for Ankeny dining, retail and entertainment.
Walking in, one only has to look around to get a feel for the sports bar atmosphere envisioned by Gerleman. Seventy-inch televisions line the walls, surrounding a wide-open dining area. Belly up to the bar and you’ll be accompanied by a couple of onlookers – a 3,200-pound mounted moose head and a mounted trophy elk head.
When the weather warms up, guests can enjoy their meal on one of Jethro’s two patios. They can also grab their friends and have a drink next to one of the restaurant’s fire pits (or the fountain or waterfall – whichever you prefer).
Travel to the back of the house and you won’t find a single dish coming out of a box. Every recipe on Jethro’s menu was designed in Splash’s kitchen by Executive Chef Dominic Iannarelli.
“That’s what really makes us unique,’ Gerleman said. “Nothing comes from a can.”
So what exactly are the cooks whipping up in the kitchen?
Jethro’s menu is designed around smoked meats, done on-site in one of the restaurant’s two smokers. Barbecue is up to you – five different kinds of sauce are available on your table. Guests can also enjoy Cajun favorites like shrimp jambalaya or crawfish etouffee – all of which is spiced down a little for an Iowan’s pallette, Gerleman said. But for the five-alarm diners, don’t worry – hot sauce comes on the table, too.
Once you sit down to eat, you’ll have many options to choose from. Diners can start with a plate of Jethro’s award-winning wings or onion rings. Choose something lighter like the Better Homes and Gardens Melt (also an award-winner) or a four-meat dinner featuring pork, chicken, sausage, ham or turkey (all smoked, of course).
Feeling really hungry? Take the "Adam Emmenecker Challenge." Yes, the one featured on The Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food" in 2010. The challenge? Eat a five-pound sandwich named after the Drake University basketball star and waffle fries in 15 minutes or less.
To wash all that down, grab a soda or a specialty drink served to you in a Mason jar, or try one of 26 specialty and craft beers Jethro’s serves on tap.
And one last thing, men. Make sure to make a pit stop in the restroom on your way out. A one-way picture window offers a view of the lake for you to take in the scenery after taking care of business.
Gerleman said Ankeny seemed like an ideal location to open his fifth restaurant.
“There are 45,000 people within a two-mile radius of this location,” Gerleman said. “There’s no other restaurant like this around here.”
The restaurant employs about 120 people, and Gerleman said he strives to make Jethro’s a fun place to work.
“The staff has all been here with me since the beginning,” Gerleman said. “I’m happy to have all these people from Ankeny working with us.”