Saturday, July 23, 2011

Matty At Miles Inn

It was a party on a warm November night, and there beside the door stood a horse. A horse waiting on the parkway across from the old Cooper grammar school in Sioux City, Iowa, at Miles Inn.

Brad Jackson, and his horse, "Matty," were out for a ride on a warn November night. According to Brad this is not unusual, but it sure stopped traffic.

“This isn’t the first time we made the trip,” Jackson said, looking at the traffic outside the door. "We come here often."

Jackson and his horse came up from Sergeant Bluff, he said. It was a nice night, and they went horseback riding together.

And so on the corner of Leech Avenue and Fairmount Street, Matty stood tied to a telephone pole as cars stopped at the intersection. The horse didn’t seem to notice the cars though, or that many had parked across the street, or near the back of the building.

Then Children appeared, apparently from some of the cars, and several youngsters were hoisted on the horse by Brad.

After pictures and smiles, Brad went inside. Denny Lias, the main man behind the bar (the owner, he said), highlighted the festivities by proclaiming Miles Inn had the "best loose meat sandwiches (sloppy Joes), and frosty mugs of beer around."

There was laughter, and many shouted in agreement.

As the merriment continued, Matty ignored the noise. She waited patiently outside the door of the corner tap.

“She’s a good horse,” Jackson said as he took a swig from his beer. “Not many can take the traffic and noise like she can.”

Jackson came up to see his friends, and naturally, brought his horse along. And so on November 8, 2006, the fun went into overdrive as Matty waited for children, who seemed to come from everywhere.

Miles Inn is historic, and is one of the few neighborhood bars still open for business in the city. Many Polish, Lithuanian and Russian immigrants once made their homes in this area between the Greenville and Morningside suburbs, and Miles Inn was the place to relax after a hard day of work at the packing plants in the valley below.

Down the hill, just the other side of the Leech Avenue bluffs, the packing plants of the Floyd river valley belched steam and stench all day and night, and the Sioux City stockyards housed countless cattle "gone to market" for the daily kill.

There were even horses down there. Sioux City’s famed White Horse Mounted Patrol, now housed on a farm out on old Highway 141, had stables at the "Yards." There may have even been one or two come over the hill in a parade, but most of the regular horses down there pushed cattle around.

For Brad and Matty, those days of horse and rider herding cattle were a distant memory. Today it is beer and youngsters on a hot fall evening, the Yards and its cattle long gone.

“A beer for the horse and a whiskey for the man,” Brad shouted over the din of the bar.

Lias laughed and shook hands. He was soon back behind his bar. His sandwiches are "world famous," and the general notion that Iowa has a special recipe for hamburger has even been featured in Bon Appétit. But at Miles Inn, the crumbly sandwich, much spicier than a similar sandwich served down the street at Tastee Inn And Out, comes with a frosty mug of beer.


As the roar died down, Brad was again outside lifting children onto his horse. Yes, patrons were still whooping it up inside, but outside the children of strangers were siting happily on Matty.

In the old neighborhood, everyone would be proud.  Saint Casimir's is gone now ( but still remembered ); the Lithuanian Mass, the stockyards and white horses too. But children still play at the school (the building is now a community center), and Matty is a delight. The place is as noisy and full of life as ever.

What a treat.

The next time you see a horse outside the front door at Miles Inn (and there is now a hitching post too!) stop by for a visit. It will probably be Matty and Brad, so say hello. Matty loves to have her nose rubbed, and probably wouldn’t mind an apple either.

And Brad?  Well, he’ll be doing all the lifting.  There is always a child waiting to sit on Matty.

On a recent visit to Sioux City, we drove by Miles Inn. The hitching post is still there, and on it is a plaque reserving a spot for "Matty."   Also, check out these reviews at ( ). There is info at ( too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi!!! Nice forum. This my first post.

August 17, 2011  

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