After Katie Farrowe moved from Los Angeles to Monticello, Iowa with her husband, they wanted a way to bring the “big city” atmosphere to their small town. Erin Cox, who lived in Chicago, and Katie decided to try to fill that niche that was missing. They wanted to create a place for good cocktails, wine, craft beer, and food that was not out of the way for anyone in or around the community. The Jitney opened in Monticello in January of 2013.
The Jitney is a very unique establishment, having a lot of meaning in its name. It is named after the train that traveled from Calmar to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Their 40 foot bar top is a “to-scale” railroad track that has all the stops that The Jitney used to make. They also have original Jitney conductor hats, railroad nails as purse hooks, various old images from the original Jitney, and so much more. Their goal was to create an environment that you can come into, have a drink or dinner, and really get lost in the time because you are so comfortable.
After a few years of business, Katie and Erin were looking for different ways to establish their business and grow their clientele. They were recommended to talk with Scott Swenson of Kirkwood SBDC. They went in with the goal to increase their food sales, and with Scott’s assistance, they did exactly that through slowly implementing the ideas they came up with. Katie said, “They gave us a fun, new perspective of how to keep our look, advertising, and menu fresh and exciting.”
Throughout the years since Katie and Erin opened The Jitney, they are most surprised with how many people around their community enjoy coming into the restaurant and appreciate the atmosphere, and are thankful for the word-of-mouth marketing they provide to their friends. Even though it is a more urban style establishment, everyone loves how different it is compared to the other restaurants in the area.