Waveland Cafe has hosted candidates including Joe Biden, Fred Thompson and John Edwards.
DES MOINES, Iowa — For the past 20 years, the Waveland Cafe in Des Moines has enjoyed an up-close and personal look at national politics. Media personalities and politicians from around the country visited the diner during multiple Iowa caucuses, trying to get their names known to voters in the eagle-eyed state.
“There’s a lot of energy in this restaurant,” says Waveland Cafe owner David “Stony” Stone. “Every time a candidate comes here, we see them.”
But what is the highlight of all these hardcore meeting memories? President Joe Biden came to visit, when he was Vice President Biden.
Waveland remained open to receive him after the usual closing hours, with a security entourage extending several blocks from the café itself.
“He signed on the side of the bus. He came in, and of course, we kept it open, but because of the chaos, it was probably the more memorable one,” Stone recalled.
But those glory days may be fading. On December 2, the Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking committee voted to remove Iowa from the top of their presidential electoral calendar. The state’s Republican caucus will still start with Republicans first.
“A lot of rural folks are going to be left behind because they’re going again to go where the people are and where the money is worth. That’s likely going to be a casualty of Iowa,” Stone said.
While it’s a blow to Iowa’s political standing, it’s also a blow to business owners like Stone, who said the surge in diners from around the country is a reliable source of support for him and his staff.
“The way they’re taking it from here, it’s going to, it’s going to hurt a lot of businesses, certainly more, so I think downtown, but we’re definitely going to feel the ripple effect,” Stone said.