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Roush and family run Jesse’s Embers restaurants


Richard Roush grew up in the restaurant business. His father, Jesse Roush, opened Jesse’s Embers at 3301 Ingersoll Ave. almost 40 years ago. When Richard Roush graduated from high school, he hadn’t decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Although he wanted to be a businessman, he didn’t plan to become a restaurateur. Roush received a bachelor’s degree in business from Iowa State University.

“When you graduate from high school, you don’t know what you want,” Roush said. “Out of college I went to work for my father while looking for a job. I fell in love with it.”

After two years as a sales representative for Monarch Foodservice, he returned to Jesse’s Embers as a manager. While there, he realized that he loved the restaurant but wanted more independence.

“I wanted to do something on my own and spread out,” Roush said.

His father helped to finance the venture. Jesse’s Embers West at 50th Street and E.P. True Parkway in West Des Moines was based on the original Jesse’s Embers, which he describes as “an upscale, casual steak house somewhere between the Outback Steakhouse and 801 Steak and Chop House,” but Roush altered the menu to suit the demographics of West Des Moines. He added children’s meals, and health-conscious entrees to appeal to West Des Moines’ young families.

Roush likes to be involved with the restaurant at many levels. In fact, he attended classes at Des Moines Area Community College to earn an associate’s degree in culinary arts.

“I cook as a fill-in position,” he said. “My favorite role is walking around, talking to customers and seeing their satisfaction.”

He says that is an integral part of both Jesse’s Embers restaurants. An owner or senior operator is always in the restaurant monitoring the satisfaction of the patrons.

Soon Roush will have more customers to see to. He recently completed the classes required for his M.B.A. degree from Iowa State University. Just in time, he said, to prepare for the opening of his new Jesse’s Embers restaurant on 86th Street this summer.        

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