Tom Richards, left, owner of the building, and Mark Pleis, restauranteer, stand in front of the historic Nevada Journal building in the Main Street District. Pleis plans to open a restaurant, T.E. Alderman’s, in the building later this year.
A unique dining experience is coming to Nevada’s Main Street District this year, and what Mark Pleis is planning to offer should beckon foodies looking to try “Midwest comfort food with a twist.”
Pleis uses those words to describe the menu he’ll offer at T.E. Alderman’s, which will be located in the historic Nevada Journal building, owned by Tom Richards, in downtown Nevada.
T.E. Alderman, for those new to the community, was the first settler in Nevada, Iowa. “I’m a self-proclaimed history junkie,” Pleis offered about why he selected that restaurant name. An information security professional by day, Pleis has always had a passion for creating new foods and recipes whenever he has time to tinker. Many know him already by his company Pleis Farms Specialty Foods and his Farm Boy Rub, a seasoning he created that blends Midwest flavor with southern spices.
T.E. Alderman’s, his newest venture, actually came about when he was working with the Nevada Economic Development Council to find a location to use to produce his spice blends and gluten-free mixes. The NEDC also connected Pleis to funding support from the Mid Iowa Loan Fund.
“One idea was floated on a building and sharing with a restaurant,” he said. He wasn’t interested in sharing space. “I said if that is what they wanted, I would do both.”
The initial building fell through, but then Pleis was introduced to Richards, who received a $100,000 Main Street Challenge Grant in 2021 to help with the $350,000 renovation of the Nevada Journal building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. What Richards wanted for his building and what Pleis wanted to do… “The ideas all meshed,” Pleis said.
Pleis is experienced in the food and restaurant industry. When he and his wife, Sherrie, a local veterinarian, were living in Rome, Ga., he opened a restaurant called Cafe 2:42 (after his favorite Biblical story). He sold that restaurant in 2007 when he and Sherrie moved back to Iowa. They eventually settled in Nevada, where they had friends and family living and had always liked the community.
Being in the historic Nevada Journal building gives Pleis a plethora of possibilities on naming menu items and specials. He plans to have a menu that resembles a “classified ads” page and “headline” specials. He also said the interior will be decorated with Nevada history and newspaper articles. He hopes to also have a spot in the restaurant where people can take selfies to capture the moment.
Along with the historic appeal of T.E. Alderman’s, Pleis has a passion for creating foods, even those of international indulgence, that are safe for people with different types of food allergies.
“The big calling card, I think, will be our special attention to the top nine food allergens. I want to have at least a couple of items that someone with allergies can choose from and many of the dishes with options,” he said.
Pleis was diagnosed with Celiac disease — an immune reaction to eating gluten — a few years ago. “Not being able to eat at most restaurants, this (having a place to eat) became a very high priority for me and my friends with other food allergies.”
Pleis wants everyone to be able to enjoy coming to T.E. Alderman’s, and while it’s a lot of work to plan this venture, he said the work has been “a blast.”
“Meeting people, talking things through with community members and getting reactions from people when I show up and just drop off food (for them to try) at a different business location,” he said, all of this has brought him joy.
“The idea is to be part of this community,” he said. “This restaurant is the community’s to help shape with regards to menu, operating times, etc.” He will be looking for people’s feedback and suggestions as he continues to shape what this restaurant will be.
MORE TO KNOW ABOUT T.E. ALDERMAN’S
Pleis plans to open later this year with 10-12 full-time and part-time employees, including wait staff and kitchen staff.
At this time, he plans to be open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. If there is enough demand, he would remain open late after home school events.
All items are not gluten-free. “Most menu items will have a gluten-free alternative, unless there is no discernable difference between the two.”
His systems and procedures are designed to accommodate other food allergies. “The servers will have access to ingredients and substitutions on their table-side POS system, and special procedures are being developed to ensure there is no cross contamination of food.”
Will there be delivery? No, but orders can be packaged for pickup.
Will there be a bar? No, not a full-service bar, but there will be beer, wine and a few seasonal cocktails.
Will there be catering? Yes, but only for small groups of less than 100.
Will he take reservations? Yes, online and with a deposit. “With only 50 seats (in the restaurant) this will ensure we have a chance to recoup the loss of holding a table for those who don’t show up. If they cancel more than 2 hours before the reservation, the deposit will be refunded.”
To keep up on all T.E. Alderman’s news, including possible menu items and announcement for hiring, follow the Facebook page: tealdermans.
—Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada