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Iowa History Daily: April 18 - "Babe" Bisignano

Iowa History Daily: On April 18, 2005, legendary Des Moines restaurateur Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano passed away. Proprietor of Babe’s Restaurant 6th Avenue and Grand, Bisignano left a legacy which lasted long after the last meal ended.

Born on the south side of Iowa’s capital city, Babe attended Dowling High School and boasted a successful boxing and wrestling career before starting into the restaurant business. Venturing east to New York to try and make it as a fighter, he returned to Iowa during the late-1930s. Entering the restaurant business, Babe’s first opened in 1939 and quickly grew into a Des Moines institution. 

Originally “Babe’s Taproom,” the establishment attracted many servicemen and women stationed at Fort Des Moines During World War II. Also a hotspot for Drake law students, Babe often called the students ‘Counselor’ and let them study over a cup of coffee for hours in the restaurant’s booths. As time passed, Babe’s grew from an upstart taproom into an established Italian restaurant.

Over the years, Babe’s grew a statewide reputation for incredible pizza. After marking the restaurant’s 50th anniversary during 1989, Babe decided to retire in 1991 and closed up shop. Although workers tore down the building to put up a parking ramp in 2005, the legacy of “Babe’ Bisignano lives on in the memories of those who shared a meal, a story, or a smile with the iconic Des Moines restaurateur. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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