WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
As immigrants from Greece, Pete Maduras and Tony Papouchis set out to serve authentic food to those around them. Established in 1920 as Pete's Place, the original location was sandwiched in between two large cement plants in a neighborhood called Northwestern Row. Here all Tony & Pete strived to do was feed the hard workers of what used to be known as River City, now Mason City, IA. This was a time where T-bone steaks were $.25 and liquor was bootlegged out of the basement. Pete operated the front of house while Tony was the brains of the kitchen. The partnership continued as the location moved to its current location in 1954. It became the Northwestern Steakhouse when the restaurant was sold to Tony in 1965. Tony worked everyday to provide meals to others until he died in 1991. Unable to escape from his Greek roots, he had a large private garden next to the restaurant where he planted and collected an array of produce to use fresh in his meals daily. People would look forward to Tony's fresh salads, and especially his special Greek-inspired menu on Sundays.
CONTINUING THE TRADITION
Today, Tony's son and his wife, Bill and Ann Papouchis, own and operate the Northwestern Steakhouse. The menu has only changed slightly throughout the years, but most of the recipes are still Tony's. They honor the past with old wooden booths, early movie posters hung on the walls, and photographs of a simpler time in Mason City, IA. Customers continue to wrap around the building, waiting for hours for the food that never disappoints. A comfortable lounge has been added upstairs for customer's to enjoy a drink while they await their table. And don't worry, Tony continues to keep an eye on the place as his portrait is hung on the wall behind the register!
"I had a fond place in my heart for your restaurant since I was about 6 years old. When I was a little boy growing up in Mason City, my Dad would always take us to Pete's for dinner. That was back in 1958 or so. In those days I used to eat the chicken, which Pete would always bring to the table himself. I would eventually learn to like the steak... oh, the steak! I remember my Dad bragging about this place to everyone he met for years after he left Mason City. Now that he's gone, it's my turn to brag about it.
Well, recently I was able to see my old hometown again, and of course, I had to make the pilgrimage to Pete's. (Now the Northwestern Steakhouse.) I have to admit, nothing has changed in the 53 years I have been away. I can even tell you the taste is exactly the same as it was back then. (You never forget a certain taste or smell.) I Had the filet with spaghetti on the side and a small salad, and it was heavenly! I would have made the trip from Florida just to eat that steak!
"I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed seeing the old building again and knowing that someone has carried the torch all these years in honor of Pete, keeping the experience exactly the same as it was, and following the same ways of cooking that made the place famous in the first place. You just don't see that happen much anymore. Kudos to you and may your restaurant live on forever!
a customer of 53 years
When Mike was six, he can remember eating at then Highway 65 location. Pete Madouras and Mike's father, Larry Mason, were good friends and they would always argue over paying the bill. This was during the prohibition when the tablecloths were meat paper and Pete would bring them beer from the basement. It was a different time then and they could always walk right in and get a table to eat. Pete would take care of them with steak, rice, spaghetti, and french fries.
- Mike Mason
Customer of 50+ Years
"We would come in with our first grandchild and Merle (Madouras). Grandchildren make you twice happy. Once coming and once going.
"The owner of Club 28 in Charles City, Spiz Castle, would come in every Friday night. Maybe because he enjoyed the food but maybe he wanted the recipe too.
When Pete's Place was on Highway 65 there was one entrance to the restaurant and that was through the kitchen. At this door there was a box stationed that read "Greek Relief Box". After WWII, you had to contribute to this fund in order to get in to eat. There was also only a wood stove.
We would bring in the grandkids and great-grandkids. They had to order a hamburger but gradually they graduated to a filet."
- Bob and Maxine Eggert
Customers of 53 years
Good Food & Good People
Aug 12, 2019
The most famous restaurant in every state
"Iowa's northwestern steakhouse is almost 100 years old"