116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
My Biz: Couple’s love of food builds Anamosa business
ANAMOSA - Dirk Downing loves a good steak.
He learned to grill one when he was eight years old. And now, decades later, he's using those skills and his passion for a good meal at his restaurant - Tyler & Downing's Eatery.
A fourth generation butcher, Downing learned early in his career about cuts of meat and how to run a small family business in the very building where he runs his restaurant on Main Street in Anamosa.
He and his wife Brenda - the restaurant's head chef - opened Tyler & Downing's Eatery in December 2004 because they wanted to work together in their hometown. As their sons grew and moved out of the house, the Downings decided they wanted to spend more time together.
'It used to be that I went one way in the morning and she went the other,” Downing said. 'We felt empowered to take control of our futures.” And so their careers converged when they struck upon the idea of Tyler & Downing Eatery.
Before the couple opened their restaurant, Dirk spent years working in IT, while Brenda operated her own salon. But Downing said his wife has long been a great cook.
'She's the bomb. Brenda is always introducing me to new foods to try,” he said, adding that she spent hours researching and developing recipes for their new endeavor.
That research paid off, as several of Tyler & Downing's most popular menu items are cooked up from scratch, including Tuscan-style soup, smoked pork ribs and chicken wings.
'A lot of what we would consider our signature dishes are things we make right here at the restaurant,” he said. 'This place is homegrown.”
But Downing said the best part of his job is interacting with his customers.
'I'm a chatty Cathy,” he said. 'I love crowds and conversation. That's when I'm in heaven.”
But Downing spends most of his time in the kitchen and behind the scenes.
'I cut all my own steaks,” he said. 'And I don't like to toot my own horn, but I do everything to keep the business running … the bills, books, maintenance, ordering and cooking.”
Downing said he has a great five person staff, but the nature of running a small business asks a lot of the owner.
'That's the essence of small business. You wear all the hats,” he said.
Even the pictures and memorabilia on the walls of Tyler & Downing Eatery's have a story to tell - they are a nod to the family's rich 100-year history in Anamosa.
'I think people enjoy the quaintness and the authenticity,” Downing said. 'I am very proud of the duration my family has served the public in this town.”
At a glance
l Name: Dirk Downing
l Title: Owner
l Company: Tyler & Downing's Eatery
l Address: 122 E. Main St., Anamosa
l Phone: (319) 462-5533
l Website: tyleranddowningseatery.com
l Know a manager or company in business for more than a year that would be ideal for 'My Biz”? Contact Chelsea Keenan at email@example.com.