Heard of Made-Rite? If you're from Iowa, you have. And if you've eaten at The Iowa Cafe in Mesa, you'd know its Maiden Rite sandwich is an homage to the 86-year-old fast casual restaurant's famous loose meat sandwich.
Wait, what's the heck's a loose meat sandwich?
"Think of it like a sloppy Joe without the sloppy."
That's Bradley Burt, president and CEO of Maid-Rite. He tells me the Valley is the perfect place to open the first three Maid-Rite locations in Arizona thanks to the number of Midwesterners who settle here. The Des Moines-based restaurant franchiser currently has around 75 diner-style locations in fourteen states.
"I get two phone calls or emails a week asking us to come to here," Burt tells me. "Right now, people are hosting Maid-Rite parties in their homes, with up to 150 guests. We've been sending them hats and seasoning."
Burt says the word "maid" in the restaurant's name (instead of "made") may have resulted as a trademark issue or could have come from the founder's wife, who believed having a maid fix the sandwich was a good idea.
The founder was Fred Angell, an Iowan butcher who created the restaurant's famous loose meat sandwich (seasoned ground beef served on a steamed bun) in 1926. In addition to Angell's ground beef creation, Maid-Rite's menu also features classic diner-style fare like onion rings and home-style pie in addition to more healthful items like wraps and salads -- all for around seven bucks per person.
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According to the Des Moines Register, Made-Rite will increase by over twenty new franchises this year, a fact Burt says is a result of entrepreneurs "saying phooey" to the current economy or, if they're retired, beating boredom.
Burt says the new Maid-Rite locations will be in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa and that, once locations are secured, he hopes to be open in two to three months.
"We'll have to hire someone to direct traffic when we open," Burt jokes. "There's gonna be a lot of people."