April 25, 2016

Zeke’s Island Café in the Hilltop Campus Village

It’s been almost ten years since my wife Jess and I stumbled upon the Hawaiian Pulled Pork Nachos in a restaurant in the airport in Honolulu. I made the joke that someday I would open a restaurant just to run those nachos.

Well, that joke became a reality, and Zeke’s Island Café started serving little treasures from all over the world. The Hawaiian Pulled Pork Nachos remains the cornerstone of our ever-changing menu. The inspiration for many of the other creations that make it to the menu or the features board come from a surprising source. You!

Often times customers that have lived on or visited an island or coastal region offer not only suggestions but also recipes and even, on the rare occasion, actual cooking lessons. It may seem strange, but it’s true. From the beginning, we have asked for input from our friends and family aka (customers). When we first opened, we didn’t use the register. We offered samples of every dish we had,  asking people to pay what they thought it was worth. The understanding was simple, put money in the jar, and we’ll go buy
more food tomorrow and try something new.  Both of our hot sellers, the Tilapia Tacos and Crispy Shrimp Tacos were developed from suggestions made by Fans of Zeke’s.
In September of 2015 we found ourselves with some big decisions to make about where to move and how to develop the Zeke’s brand. We held “Island Council Meetings “ with an open invitation to all of our new friends and family. Several people showed up to the meetings and weighed in on the conversations that led to our eventual move out of the Kimberly location and into the Hilltop Campus Area.

The seven foot hammerhead shark that guards our new front door was donated by two very dedicated Zeke’s Friends just because they thought we needed it.
It has been such a thrilling adventure getting settled in to our new home at 1509 North Harrison in Davenport, Iowa. The Hilltop Business Association welcomed us with open arms. The most surprising of all was to discover the Tenants and Business Owners in the area coming in and helping us. Once we met the new neighbors, it seemed like we had a great place to grow into.  Our new friends and family now include some of the most amazing entrepreneurs that really seem to stick together and help the entire area succeed.  If it weren’t for the community already in place in the Hilltop area we would be still be struggling.  From here on out, it sure seems like smooth sailing, and that comes from knowing we’re all in this together.

If you are already a Zeke’s fan please come meet our neighbors if not come try the nachos!  We’ll see you soon either way, because Zeke’s just wouldn’t be Zeke’s without you.

Jason David Stewart
“Chef  Stu”

Filed Under: Community