I recently returned to Ottumwa on business after a 20-year absence. I was shocked by the conditions of downtown and the disappearance of nearly all of my old favorite hangouts. What has happened to this town? It doesn’t seem like the population has dropped significantly. Is it poor infrastructure? Or lack of leadership? Sure, the new events center is beautiful by Main Street now looks like it is a displaced section of a large inner-city neighborhood. For the most part, I only saw growth in the wrong places.
After spending an hour or so driving through town and checking on my old neighborhood, schools, etc., I felt as though I really needed a beer. A relative had spoken of Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company and suggested I try it out. After such a depressing exploration, I was floored that this town could offer this high quality food in such a rich atmosphere. The house brews quickly erased the negatively from my mind.
Perhaps the best kept secret in town was Joe’s Italian Grill. Wow! The Murphey pizza is heaven on Earth. Everything my colleague and I tried was wonderful, and yet I was saddened to see that business was slow. Apparently the closing of another establishment, Joe’s Family Restaurant, confused many customers. I take it upon myself to get the word out: Joe’s Italian Grill is still open, come eat here! The service is quick, the food is hot and fresh and there is something on their affordable men for everyone. I want there to be a Joe’s near me!
Ottumwa, please support these and your other local businesses. No entrepreneurs will want to invest in a city that does not support what it already has. Downtown should be a haven for small businesses to grow! Why would city leaders watch as developers moved outside the city limits? If something is not done soon, this town will be unrecognizable in another 20 years.