Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Baker brings ‘Sweet ‘n Saucy’ BBQ to the pub at  Walt’s Taproom

New restaurant on the square open for business
May 18, 2018
Photo by: Karyn Spory Chef Shannan Baker is serving up her take on BBQ as she heads Mt. Pleasant’s newest restaurant, Walt’s Taproom. The restaurant, located at 111 W. Monroe St., recently opened and offers pub style BBQ. Baker is no stranger to BBQ as her family also owns Sweet ‘n Saucy in Fairfield.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Walt’s Taproom is open for business.

The food served at the new restaurant in the square at 111 W. Monroe St. in Mt. Pleasant is described by chef Shannan Baker as BBQ pub style, with a mix of burgers, mix and match mac’n cheese dishes and finer dining in the evenings.

The restaurant is named after Walter Hill, former Mt. Pleasant Police officer and proud supporter of the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, showing off his mid-1900s Allis Chalmers tractor every year.

“It’s kind of an honor to him,” said Hill’s daughter Norma Baker, part-owner of Walt’s Taproom. Hill passed away in November 2016.

Norma and her husband Tony Baker already have a reputation in Mt. Pleasant for excellent food. Owners of Sweet ‘n Saucy in Fairfield, they frequently bring their food truck to local events in town.

The Bakers never intended to go into the restaurant business when the doors of Sweet ‘n Saucy opened in 2013. In fact, Tony was looking for a commercial kitchen to do part-time catering to pay for an elaborate and extremely expensive smoker he purchased. In the process, Tony reached out to a woman who already owned a small restaurant and was looking to sell it because of her health.

“One thing led to another and all of a sudden we owned a restaurant,” Tony said.

After five years of owning Sweet ‘n Saucy in Fairfield, however, the Bakers couldn’t pass up an opportunity to expand, creating something fresh and somewhat upscale for a new community.

Although balancing the demand of owning two different restaurants is daunting, the Bakers are prepared for the challenge as a family, with Tony and Norma’s other daughter running Sweet ‘n Saucy while Shannan focuses on Walt’s.

The Bakers are starting slow, with Walt’s Taproom opened Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Walt’s is closed Sundays and Mondays.

“We didn’t want to overextend ourselves,” said Shannan, Tony and Norma’s daughter. “We wanted to put out a good product, make sure we had a good crew, good menu. We just didn’t want to be working 24/7 and by the end of Saturday, the food was garbage because we’re too tired to put out anything good.”

The flexible hours also allow Walt’s Taproom to be open for special events and caterings. While the lunch menu is a little lighter fare with soups, salads, wings, burgers and sandwiches and mac’n cheese, dinner includes options of steaks, pork chops, shrimp tacos and pasta.

Norma said that 90 percent of Walt’s menu is homemade food — nothing frozen. “We actually cook,” she said.

Since their soft opening Wednesday, May 9, Norma said she has actually been thanked by customers for their concise menu, rather than showing off a booklet of “800” options.

Shannan is the chef at Walt’s, rightfully so. Cooking professionally since she was 16 years old, back in Fairfield Shannan is known as “BBQ girl.”

While the menu at Walt’s Taproom is a little more upscale than Sweet ‘n Saucy, there’s nothing on it that Shannan herself wouldn’t eat. Her favorite item on the menu is the beer brat burger — a bratburger patty with beer cheese, sauerkraut, fried onions and mayo on a pretzel bun.

True to its name, Walt’s Taproom also has an extensive list of drinks on tap and various wines and meads. As a local business, the Bakers wanted their selection of drinks to support local Iowa breweries and wineries, with their selections coming from Exile Brewing Co., in Des Moines; Peacetree Brewing, in Knoxville; Backpocket Brewing, in Coralville; Airport Road Winery in Mt. Pleasant; and Cedar Valley Winery, in Fairfield — to name a few.

“Before I owned a business, I didn’t think about local,” Norma admitted.

“Once you own a small business, you start thinking and looking at other small businesses,” Shannan said. “That’s what grew into the all-Iowa stuff.”

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