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Iowa History Daily: April 23 - George the Chili King

Iowa History Daily: On April 23, 1887, George the Chili King Sr. was born. Originator of one of Iowa’s most iconic restaurants, George the Chili King started an intergenerational restaurant reign in Des Moines.

George Karaidos arrived in Des Moines in 1915 and opened a small restaurant at 7th and Mulberry in the city’s downtown. When local newspaper reporters suggested to George the downtown area needed somewhere serving a good five-cent bowl of chili, a king was born. Selling the business in 1946, Karaidos opened a different restaurant which soon failed. 

Determined to start again during the late 1940s, Karaidos built a small wooden shack at 2505 Euclid and dubbed the venture George the Chili King Drive-In. In 1952, George the Chili King moved to 5722 Hickman Road. The business thrived, eventually outliving the owner and moving to the stewardship of the next generation. Under George Karaidos Jr. the business continued to reign as one of Iowa’s most popular.

The business closed when George Jr. passed away in October of 2019. The building, still standing on Hickman, currently finds listing on the Des Moines Heritage Trust’s list of endangered historic buildings at risk of demolition. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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