Carey’s Cafe celebrates forty years in business

Friday, March 2, 2018
The able crew at Carey's Diner in Cherokee. left to right, Mark Donahue, RC Clayton, Willa Campell, Carey Hetrick and Tina Westbay.
Photo by Mari Bauer

It has become a mainstay on 2nd Street of Cherokee, Iowa, and if you haven’t been there, you really should go. . It’s Carey’s Diner, and has the best hot beef this side of the Missouri River. Carey Hetrick has been in the diner business for forty years now, and he says still “There is never a dull moment.”

Carey is a Cherokee resident, born and raised, and he has spent all of his 74 years here. Cherokee is his home.

Carey’s establishment started out as a bar where he served tacos and taco pizza. When he wanted to get out of the bar business and get into food, he leased his current location for $1,000 and then paid $400 per month until his landlord offered to sell it to him. He did it in a heartbeat.

The restaurant, from eyeing it, looks like it hasn’t been touched in a generation, but Carey says his customers like it that way. They don’t come to look at the scenery, they come to eat good food. Big sellers for Carey’s include, of course, his hot beef, made from fresh roasted beef, real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. And for $7 you get one loaded meal. Another one of his specialties is his Carey’s Chicken Cheese Delight with fries. He has a full menu - loaded with breakfast items, sandwiches, dinners and a salad bar in the evening. Carey’s features all kinds of steaks, shrimp and chicken, and on Friday and Saturday nights he serves delicious ribeye steak with your choice of potato, vegetable, bread and butter and salad bar. Whatever you are hankering for, Carey’s more than likely has it.

Carey’s is open from 5 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays they are open from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving breakfast all day.

When asked what he likes about his cafe, Carey will tell you, “I love everything about it. I have the best help and the best customers who most are regulars and I can’t wait to see them everyday.”

Carey’s employs five people, counting himself. RC Clayton has been there for 2 1/2 years and Mark Donahue for six years. Tina Westbay is Carey’s daughter and also co-owner, and Willa Campbell has been at Carey’s for the past 18 years.

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