Pepper’s Grill and Sports Pub was established in December of 1991, at 620 East 18th Street , in Cedar Falls , Iowa by Ken and Sue Stedman. The name Pepper’s came from a trip Ken and Sue made to watch their son, Troy , play football in Raleigh , North Carolina . They were trying to come up with a name, when they happened upon a restaurant named The Radish. This somehow inspired the name Pepper. Ken’s good friend from previous work went by the name Pepper, so at that point they decided the name of the new restaurant would be Pepper’s.
The building was an empty old warehouse at the time, showing very little signs of life. Ken had the vision to purchase the property that nobody wanted to touch on 18th street , far from the action on University Avenue or the burgeoning Parkade.
He made it his business to get to know all of the business owners around the new building. He worked out agreements allowing both customers and employees to park in the surrounding lots until he could acquire extra space for parking. Ken added on a couple of times, created the space for the eventual back bar area, built the sizable lofts on each side of the massive dining room, wrapped the exterior in neon and built a giant horse shoe bar as the center piece. He stocked the bar with a dizzying amount of draft beer selections and placed several large screen TV’s throughout. This unique sports-restaurant seems like a common formula today, but this was the first of its kind and is considered by many to be an inspiration for similar restaurants found throughout the area today.
While building out the restaurant and parking lots Ken felt it very important to save the giant trees surrounding the property. The most famous of these became the 70 ft pine adjacent to the building. The Pepper’s staff and customers put together a drive the first year and lit the tree for Christmas with hundreds of lights. This tree, when lit, can be seen from many points in Cedar Falls and now has become a traditional stop during the holidays.
With 40+ televisions, two full bars and a menu with something for everyone, Pepper’s has become a long standing community and University of Northern Iowa favorite. Being the largest Sports Bar in the Cedar Valley , Pepper’s is famous for giant hand breaded Tenderloins, house made Appetizers, Steaks, Pasta and more! The success of this restaurant and long history are due to the vision and hard work of founder Ken Stedman. His penchant for risk-taking and desire to be creative has made Pepper’s into one of the most successful independently owned and operated restaurants in Northeast Iowa . His family and original partners continue the tradition today.