dsmWeekly: May 4, 2022
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May 4, 2022

Do you find yourself wishing for a space designed to meet your and your family’s specific needs? Let us help you find space in your home for solutions that enhance your life. Read more.
Any What the Fries order comes with your choice of nacho cheese sauce, Monterey Jack cheese sauce, shredded mozzarella or shredded cheddar cheese. Photographer: Victoria Lou.

What the Fries Expands into Local Bites Food Court

Writer: Karla Walsh

It’s been less than one year since Teonte Smith and Gary Dameron opened the service window on their dream food truck, What the Fries, for their debut service.

“We knew we wanted to open a food truck, and brought our experience of working at fast-food restaurants in the past,” Smith says.

So they began brainstorming “fun themed concepts,” keeping in mind they wanted to create something their entire family could enjoy eating together. Eventually, they decided to take a pairing they both adored—sandwiches and fries—and give it a twist.

“Sandwiches are so good with fries, right? We just eliminated the bread and decided to put the meat, cheese and toppings right on top of the fries. Loaded fries are something we both love, so this felt natural,” Dameron says.

Fast-forward 11 months, and the duo has outgrown their first home. The truck is still, well, trucking, but as of April 5, you can also get your fries fix at their new brick-and-mortar location at Local Bites Food Court (700 Locust St., lower level). Dameron and Smith planted roots at a spot that will particularly delight downtown office dwellers as they return to the office since it’s connected to the skywalk. (By the way, What the Fries joins the ranks of Fernando’s Mexican Grill, Michelangelo’s Pizza and Pasta, Teriyaki Boys, China Star, Prep Kings and Burger Shop at the locally owned food court.)

So what’s the deal with What the Fries’ menu? Diners start by choosing a fry (classic, crinkle cut, curly or waffle), then can build their own creation with protein, cheese, toppings and sauce. Or hit the easy button and try one of What the Fries’ signature creations, like the best-selling Jerk Chicken Fries with marinated chicken breast, shredded cheese or cheese sauce and jerk sauce. Menu items come in three sizes: kids ($5), half order ($8) or full order ($12).

Smith and Dameron hope the Locust location is the first of many: “Our future goal is to be in mall food courts as a franchise. We think that is a great fit for our type of food,” Smith says.

Follow @wtfriesdsm on Instagram go to to keep up with the truck’s location. Or get your fry fix at Local Bites via takeout or dine in from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or order from 2 to 5 p.m. via Doordash.
Alessio Bax has appeared with more than 150 orchestras, performing in London, St. Petersburg, New York, Boston, Sydney and more. This will be Bax's first appearance in Des Moines.


Acclaimed Italian Pianist to Star in Concert

Italian classical pianist Alessio Bax will make his Des Moines debut with the Des Moines Symphony’s final concert of the season. A virtuoso, Bax graduated from the Conservatory of Bari, Italy, when he was 14, and has also appeared on National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concerts series.

The concert will include Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House” overture and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, ending with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Purchase tickets here.
Low Profile Sofas & Sectionals

Are they right for you? Here are some dimensions, but you're going to have to sit in them to find your answer.
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Mainframe Studios First Friday (Friday, 5-8 p.m.): At Mainframe's First Friday, City Sounds will unveil their annual public pianos painted by local artists including Ali Hval, Jill Wells and Roosevelt High School art students. You also can view the “Time Paper Sund” exhibit featuring work from 25 Iowa State University College of Design students. There will also be open studios and food and drink. See the full programming list here.

Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market opening day (Saturday, 7 a.m.-noon): The beloved local market kicks off this weekend. Returning favorites include Ali Family Garden, Farm Kids Food Company and Vander Ploeg Bakery, among many others. Check out the full vendor list here, and read our dsm article on all the new vendors to look out for this year.

Spring Garden Festival (Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.): The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will host its annual plant sale in person this year. Find roses, grasses, native plants and more available for purchase, along with gardening tools and plant-themed decorations. Visit the Botanical Garden's website for details.

Festival Cinco de Mayo (Saturday, noon-10 p.m.): Celebrate Mexican culture in Valley Junction this weekend. Enjoy traditional Mexican foods, artwork, dancing, live music and other entertainment. The Historic Valley Junction Foundation will also crown a Cinco de Mayo King and Queen.

Jill Wells art exhibit opening reception (Saturday, 6-8 p.m.): Local artist Jill Wells will present her newest multimedia work, “FEEL,” at Plymouth Gallery in Plymouth Congregational Church (4126 Ingersoll Ave.). The exhibit will feature nearly 50 two- and three-dimensional artworks, created on top of the Braille pages of the Americans With Disability Act of 1990, with additional interactive sensory elements like sound and LED lighting. More information on the works is available here. The exhibit will run through July 3.
Upcoming engagements: Des Moines Performing Arts announced new additions to four popular series for the 2022-23 season: the Wellmark Family Series, Dance Series (pictured), National Geographic Live Series and Prairie Meadows Temple Comedy Series. Notable performances to look forward to include “Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical” coming from its premiere in New York, and “The Crown – Live,” a reimagined comedy on Queen Elizabeth II, based on the Netflix drama. Also, catch lectures by three experts in their field. Head to to purchase season tickets and to see the announcement of the new Willis Broadway Series season on May 5.
New chef: Rateb Aburas joins the Surety Hotel as executive chef, the hotel announced Monday. Aburas will lead the hotel’s culinary program and the menu at Mulberry Street Tavern. Influenced by his Middle Eastern heritage, he already has made some changes to the menu; new items include a spring vegetable salad, smoked pork chop with Fuul (a Middle Eastern fava bean puree) and a wood-fired whole trout with salsa veracruz.

Maker market: Des Moines Mercantile, a general store selling Iowa-based goods in the Highland Park neighborhood, will host Mercantile Market May 15 in its Sixth Avenue parking lot. The market will have 36 local vendors selling clothing, pottery, flowers and more. There will also be live music and food. Find details about the event on the Des Moines Mercantile website, and read more about the shop in this dsm article.

NAMI dinners: The NAMI Beautiful Minds initiative begins in May, with an opening reception this Friday (May 6). Then, join the community throughout the month at the Beautiful Minds Dinners, hosted at different residences around Des Moines. The dinners seek to create a bridge between mental health and the arts. Actors at each dinner will portray celebrities who have battled mental illness, such as Lady Gaga, Ernest Hemingway and Billie Holiday, and encourage conversation to combat the stigma. Read more about the initiative here, and purchase tickets to one of the upcoming dinners here.

We're betting Des Moines photographer King Au had a good time at last night's unveiling--as did everyone else who attended.

dsm's May/June and Inclusion Issues Unveiled

What a party! A vibrant crowd of more than 300 people joined us at Prairie Natural Meats and Seafood in West Des Moines yesterday evening for the unveiling of the May/June issue of dsm. Attendees admired the beautifully shot cover (a collaboration between Joe Crimmings and Jami Milne), sampled a variety of fresh meat, seafood and other bites, danced to music with a decidedly energetic beat, and even celebrated the birthday of Ale Vidal Soler, Prairie Meats' owner and president and hostess extraordinaire.

We also revealed our annual edition of Inclusion. Throughout both issues, you’ll find inspiring stories you won't want to miss: Meet some cool kids on the block learning to skateboard, discover new places to go in town with Nu Huynh, and learn about local makers such as  Boonie Boone, Nizigiyimana Danifodi and Ibe Leishangthem.

Couldn’t attend the event? Check out
this video and these photos for some highlights.
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