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The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Searching for Bigfoot (Betty’s)

Bigfoot+Betty%E2%80%99s+is+owned+by+Jesse+and+Chelsi+Armstrong%2C+who+double+as+the+Sasquatch+Jack%E2%80%99s+owners.+The+restaurant%E2%80%99s+signature+entree+is+their+tenderloin%2C+which+is+breaded+in-house.
COURTESY/STEVE ERICKSON
Bigfoot Betty’s is owned by Jesse and Chelsi Armstrong, who double as the Sasquatch Jack’s owners. The restaurant’s signature entree is their tenderloin, which is breaded in-house.

For those who frequent Main Street, a new restaurant has opened behind Sarah’s Espresso at 419 Main St. Bigfoot Betty’s opened earlier this year under the ownership of Jesse and Chelsi Armstrong, who also own Sasquatch Jack’s in Waverly. For the couple, opening a restaurant in Cedar Falls has always been a dream, for a multitude of reasons. 

The Armstrongs, who already own and operate the fast-casual restaurant Sasquatch Jack’s in Waverly, always knew they wanted to expand their business to Cedar Falls. For them, it’s personal, as they both hail from the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area. Chelsi Armstrong is a UNI alum, and Jesse attended Cedar Falls High School. “Waverly is great, and we love it there,” Jesse said. “But it does have a ceiling. You know, it’s a smaller town and we wanted to get our brand out there and get exposed to the Cedar Falls-Waterloo market.” The couple had wanted to explore a second location for a while, and one day, Jesse stumbled upon a listing for what’s now Bigfoot Betty’s home. He toured it, the couple sent in an application, and by October, the couple had decided that the space was the spot for Bigfoot Betty’s. With the restaurant opening earlier this year, that makes for a turnaround only being a couple months. “We were only able to do it with the help of our people. Our family, our friends, and our employees. Our general manager is fantastic. We wouldn’t be able to do anything without their support,” the couple said. According to the Armstrongs, everyone pitched in to help them get Bigfoot Betty’s off the ground. “We seriously wouldn’t be able to do it without our amazing employees. With COVID, a lot of restaurants lost a lot of people, but we retained about 90% of our staff. We’re so grateful to how dedicated they are and everything they do for us.”

The branding of Bigfoot Betty’s was something that came easy for the Armstrongs, who use their family-style restaurants to honor their grandparents. “The branding wasn’t something we struggled with,” laughed Chelsi Armstrong. “Sasquatch Jack’s is named after his grandfather, so for us, Bigfoot Betty’s was kind of a no-brainer, Betty being my grandmother. After we nailed that down, we made our logo and brought in our trees and wildflowers, and I think it turned into something really beautiful.” In their quick turnaround, their employees supported their vision. Over the course of just a couple months, the restaurant quickly came together. For the Armstrongs, they want the fast-casual family restaurant to be something everyone can enjoy. “We’re one of the only restaurants on main street that doesn’t sell alcohol,” said Jesse Armstrong. “We really wanted this space to have something for everyone here.” With that, the couple has a couple recommendations for first-time customers at Bigfoot Betty’s. “I’d say the best thing on the menu is our tenderloins,” Jesse said. “I can’t seem to find a good tenderloin in Iowa, so I figured we’d make one ourselves. A lot of times at restaurants, things are ordered frozen and dropped to fry. Not here. We bread everything ourselves, make our own breading,  make all of our soups, sauces, dressings, gravies, here, in house.” For Chelsi, it’s hard to just pick one thing on the menu that’s worthwhile. “I love the jackbites, and I’m partial to the Chelsi salad,” she said, alluding to the steak salad with her namesake on the Bigfoot Betty’s menu. 

While the Armstrongs believe everything on the menu is worth a try, the menu is a work in progress, and always will be. “At most restaurants, if someone has something they don’t like, they just won’t come back. I don’t want that here. If someone has something they don’t like or think could be better, I want to know. I want feedback. We revisit our menu and look at what works and what doesn’t. We always want to be improving for our customers,” Jesse commented. The family style restaurant welcomes all employees and customers like family. The restaurant located at 419 Main Street in Cedar Falls serves customers weekly from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on every day except for Sunday, when Bigfoot Betty’s is open from 11a.m. – 3p.m. A full Bigfoot Betty’s menu is available at bigfootbettys.com. 

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BAILEY KLINKHAMMER, Campus Life Editor

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