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Capt. Terry Griggs

Will: That was a great write up. And as you mentioned abt. the corporate Maid Rites, just had one in Davenport, and they are exactly like you mention. Super job on the research of both the Maid Rite, and the Canteen. I'm sure that took some time. Also, great pictures of the Canteen. I have many of the same on my computer and seperate hard drives. Much like all us former Ottumwans, I'm sure.

Glad ya saw it our way, ha!!!!!! I'm gonna pass the link to all I can send it to. I'll have to read some more of your articles on food/restaurants, etc.


Penny R.

Capt Terry's daughter, Capt Penny, is hungry for either one- Maid Rite or the Canteen! Thanks for the interesting article.

Bob Pentico 1960 Newton grad

Will, just read your article. This past weekend we met friends in New Smyrna Beach who are native Ottumwans. Since I had never had a Canteen, I got a "Canteen 101" lesson from them as well as a puzzle showing the Canteen location. I grew up in Newton when the Maid Rite was Bud's Maid Rite. It was the focal point of great food. I agree with you that the Newton Made Rite is the best; mustard and pickle only.
I also read some of your other blogs. I worked at Stockton's for 4 years during High School and my first two years in college. The Cardinal DID have great burgers. Ate there a lot. Super memories.
I loved growing up in Newton.

Phil C

Reading this account on the other side of the planet (from India) and I'm drooling on the keyboard here. I'm absolutely dying to get back to my beloved Canteen. My parents & grandparents all came from Ottumwa, and this place was an annual summer pilgrimage for us.

Ketchup, mustard and extra pickles, by the way.

And give me one of those caramel swirly lollipops on the way out too. Can't seem to find those anywhere else.

Fred  Peckham

I live in OTTUMWA off and on from 64 to 82. I was a Navy recruiter and used "Canteen" as a recruiting aid. After retiring in 1974 I
Went there at least once a week with wife and family. Only one of a kind.

Phil Goode

Loved the article about Canteen and Maid Rite. Thought you would be interested that there is a place in Loveland, Colorado called Carl's Canteen. I stopped there to see if it was anything like the Canteen in Ottumwa, Iowa and it really is. The Canteens are made with the same large buns and from what I can remember, they taste like the Ottumwa ones. Being raised in Bloomfield,Iowa, I have fond memories of driving to Ottumwa just to have a Canteen and anytime I'm back that way(I now live in Colorado), I always stop for one. That and my love of breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches just makes my trip back to Iowa yummy. By the way, the store in Loveland also has a US map with pins and the Iowa section is so covered with pins, there is no room for any more.

Gil and Mary Shaver- - -Hammond, Louisiana

Ottumwa, Iowa Canteen is the BEST and a popular spot for locals, former residents, people across the United States and any new comers. Great article!


The Muscatine Maid-Rites only shut down for two months. My family purchased the Muscatine locations and reopened in August 1997. We still use fresh locally sourced ground beef and make it in the same(literally they are that old)cooker/steam tables that have been used for over 50 years. I'd also like to mention that although the corporate stores have had their issues, and have experimented with the meat alot, they are now also using fresh ground beef cooked in large stainless steel cookers, using the patented Maid-Rite seasoning. The Newton and Marshalltown locations are icons, but I've often heard that they do not actually use the Maid-Rite seasoning. That could be just rumor, as I've never talked to the owners about it. They do a great job and their customers have come to expect the product that they have done well for the last 80+ years. Corporate is faced with alot of tough issues. There are alot of old school Maid-Rites that have been able to do their own thing, with little to no corporate influence, for decades. That is good, but makes it very difficult to put our a consistent product in every store. For instance, some Maid-Rites offered traditional breakfast, some only did lunch. Some served only Maid-Rites and drinks, others have larger menus. Some locations use seasoning, some did not(many chose to save money and not use it, or couldn't use it because they were no longer actualy Maid-Rite locations, only using the sign out front to bring in customers. This are difficuly things for corporate to deal with. Corporate would like the customer experience to be the same at every location. The Maid-Rite tradition is strong in Muscatine and we try to keep the meat the same as it was 86 years ago...and our customers make sure we do. Oh yeah...and we serve draft root beer like they did at the original Maid-Rites in Muscatine, and we have the orginal root beer barrel to go with it!!! Great blog and stop by and see us next time you're in town!


OMG, did you have any pie? When I was a kid, the Canteen had the best homemade pie! Back then, I didn't think any of the ladies looked younger than 70 and they took great pride in their professionalism. You don't get that in every restaurant! They scooped up their canteens like machines and patted the meat on with great, but fast, care. I always thought the older gals made the place so good because they took more care in their work than most youngsters you find working in today's restaurants. Not to be ageist or anything..;)
Judy R.

Lori Spurgeon

Regarding the canteen's pies; my son and I were in a few weeks ago and overheard the ladies talking about them. One lady asked if the other lady had placed their order yet. Apparently they now order them from Hy-Vee. So disappointing to hear. Love the canteen and while my son goes for lunch EVERY single day, I on the other hand consider it a treat. Anyway, dear author, no offense to maid-rite but it was the canteen that was emulated on the Rosanne show back in the 90's. Yes I know she was married to Tom Arnold, a native Ottumwan, at the time but still, we had a Maid-rite in town too and they didn't promote it. By the way, nothing beats a canteen with ketchup and mustard, extra moist.

Kevin Elliott

I grew up in southern Iowa and my Aunt and Uncle called Ottumwa home and when my brother and I would stay with them we were treated to a meal at the Canteen. Coming off the farm so to speak it was a thrill that still holds a special place in my memory for its quaintness and great Maid Rites. There used to be a Maid Rite in Indianola right on Highway 65 that was a certain stop when going to Des Moines for fun or to the state fair.

Rick Fischer

I absolutely LOVED The Canteen in Ottumwa when I visited family there as a kid. I even took my family there a few years ago to introduce them to "Ottumwa's icon", and they LOVED IT. To the owners of The Canteen-DON'T CHANGE A GREAT THING--WE LOVE IT!


I grew up visiting my grandparents in Ottumwa, and attended OHS for my freshman year. We always LOVED getting canteens, when we could afford them, and their definitely best moist! When we make them at home, we add beef broth and worcester sauce while they're cooking, and that makes a huge difference.

Well, Grandma and Grandpa are long gone, but I haven't forgotten The Canteen or their sandwiches. It makes me nostalgic for my home-away-from-home. Gonna go make some canteens for supper.


I grew up in Ottumwa and loved Canteens! I married a man from Newton and ate at The Maidrite in Newton many times. Not as good as the Canteen but close! Ate at Maidrite in Marshalltown ONCE and would never go back!!my whole family loves ketchup and they had no Ketchup on the premises! Needless to say we were very disappointed!!

Canteen is the best!!!

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