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MARION - Maid-Rite will once again serve its loose-meat sandwiches in Marion.
The restaurant is being brought back by co-franchise owners Joe Hill, of San Diego, Calif., and Jamie Hoth, owner of Select Construction Inc. in Marion, after its doors closed three years ago.
'I feel honored” to get to reopen Maid-Rite in Marion, Hill said. 'I look forward to the next 31 years and beyond creating good memories, good times and new friends.”
The business partners purchased the building at 1000 Seventh Ave. last year, with plans to renovate it into a family restaurant and Airbnb on the second floor.
As they learned the history of the building, however, Hill began to look into the feasibility of reopening it as a Maid-Rite.
The Maid-Rite sandwich was invented in Muscatine in 1926. Today, there are 45 restaurants across Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri.
The franchise in Marion closed after 31 years in business, in January 2017. Owner Ellie Osborn Riley told The Gazette the restaurant was not closing because of lack of business.
'It's just time for a change, to do something with less stress,” Riley said in 2017.
Hill wanted the blessing of Riley and her daughters Teri Entas and Nicole Ashby to reopen Maid-Rite, and he purchased the Marion franchise from them.
'Their family will always be associated with Maid-Rite,” Hill said. 'The reputation and the standards they set - we wanted to meet those and exceed. I can say both Jamie and myself have their blessing and support going forward.”
'I still hear every week from people, no matter where I'm at, talking about how much they miss the Maid-Rite,” Riley said. 'No matter where I go it's, ‘I miss your food. I miss your daughters.' It was such a gathering place.”
Riley's advice to Hill and Hoth is to 'keep the menu reasonable” and that the quality of the food 'contributed to our success,” she said.
Maid-Rite President and Chief Executive Officer Bradley Burt said he is 'very pleased” Hill and Hoth will reopen the restaurant in Marion.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, including the cost of purchasing the franchise.
Burt said Maid-Rite works with new restaurants to train employees and make sure design elements are attractive and fit with the Maid-Rite brand.
Hill flies from San Diego to Iowa monthly to visit his mother, and owns other property in Marion, which he is planning to covert into a 19-unit apartment complex.
Hoth, who grew up in Marion, has childhood memories of eating Maid-Rite sandwiches with his parents at the building.
The menu will include Maid-Rite sandwiches, tenderloins, onion rings - a Riley family recipe - pasta, soups and breakfast items. There also will be ice cream and a variety of desserts.
Hill has a vision for a wall of TVs where drone footage of Marion can be shown or sports. There also will be a banquet room.
He hopes to engage the local high schools in a Maid-Rite Student of the Week award for academics, athletics, music and drama.
The restaurant could open in December.
Hill said he is in discussions with people to run the restaurant day to day, but did not disclose names.
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