For more than 50 years, Dan’s Sandwich Shop has been a staple in the Newton community.
Owner Dan Holtkamp has done many things in his life such as attending college, serving in the U.S. Navy and even working for the Iowa Department of Transportation but Holtkamp finally decided after working in Newton for a couple of years he wanted to own his own business. That business was the local Maid-Rite shop on First Avenue.
“We signed the contract May 4, 1970,” Holtkamp said.
Through 50 years of ownership, Holtkamp and his wife Pam have enjoyed there time at the restaurant. One of the main highlights for them are the customers he has served over the years. He also enjoys the behind-the-scenes tasks including the very important food prep of grinding the hamburger to use in their signature sandwiches.
“I was very particular about the hamburger and I really enjoyed that,” Holtkamp said. “I cherished that really immensely.”
While some people may think it’s strange the owner of a business would do tasks like grind the hamburger, Holtkamp said he has been involved in almost all aspects of the business throughout the years.
“Totally involved as far as serving the customers, greeting the customers. That’s probably one of the most enjoyable things of always greetings the customers and saying good-bye to them,” Holtkamp said.
While the Holtkamps are celebrating their 50th year of ownership, the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to properly enjoy the milestone. Holtkamp said the shop is currently offering drive-thru service only, and with growing shortage concerns, his meat supplier is cutting back on his usual orders. However, despite the trying times, people are still supporting the Maid-Rite.
“I have had a lot of support from a lot of people in the community who want to see me continue,” Holtkamp said.
Over the years, Maid-Rite has been catering parties for people or providing fresh donuts for the workers at the Maytag Dairy Farm, something he still does during the Christmas season. Holtkamp has enjoyed being involved in the community and has made him cherish his business ownership.
“Some of the great things about loving my business was the employees that I had,” Holtkamp said.
Holtkamp has employed many high-school aged kids throughout the decades. He has enjoyed getting to know the young men and women and seeing them move on to become successful adults as doctors, lawyers and more. Many of these former employees remain in touch throughout the years and always speak highly of their time at Dan’s Sandwich Shop.
“To this day, they look back and think about the wonderful experience they had in having their first job working for me and that made me feel good,” Holtkamp said.
The Holtkamps have done such a good job hiring those young people that in 1992 Holtkamp said the Rotary Club awarded them with a vocational service award for “donating time and guidance to expand the vocation of others.”
“That was an award that I was really, really honored,” Holtkamp said.
Through 50 years of support, Holtkamp said the community has been excellent to him, his wife and the Maid-Rite. The sandwich shop has provided years of consistent customer service that has carved out a place in Jasper County’s heart.
“They really do consider the Maid-Rite a staple in our community,” Holtkamp said.
The coronavirus pandemic has curbed any real ideas to have a formal celebration of their half a century of ownership but Holtkamp hopes sometime in the near future they can have some sort of celebration to thank customers and friends for years of support.
“Hopefully, when all the restrictions have left we will be able to do that,” Holtkamp said.
Holtkamp, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, has enjoyed his years at the helm of the Newton business. He has no immediate plans to step away from the restaurant, either. In the meantime, he wants to be sure his customers know how much he and Pam have appreciated them as well as all of the people who have helped them make the business a success.
“Something that has been in our hearts for 50 years and the love we have, it’s pretty hard to let something like that go but it is getting close,” Holtkamp said.
Contact Dustin Teays at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org