.

UPDATE: Harvest Moon Owner Responds to Alice's Tribute Opposition

A Dallas Center restaurant claims it serves recipes handed down to them by Alice Nizzi, owner of Alice's Spaghetti Land restaurant in Waukee. Her family members say it's not so.

There are few names more beloved in Waukee than that of Alice Nizzi.

Nizzi, who died in 1997, owned Alice's Spaghetti Land in Waukee for the better part of 50 years. She's the "Alice" in Alice's Road and was known far and wide for being a bit of a character who made some of the best Italian food this side of Italy.

It shouldn't come as a surprise then, that people still hanker for her food. That's a problem now that Alice's Spaghetti Land is no longer in business. The restaurant, owned and operated by Alice's nephew, James Nizzi, after her death, closed in 2004.

Alice's  Spaghetti Land was a Waukee fixture. What was your favorite dish? Tell us in comments below.

Enter the Harvest Moon restaurant, a bar and grill in the heart of Dallas Center.

For the last few years, Harvest Moon has hosted Alice's Spaghetti Land tribute nights. On the third Sunday of every month, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., the restaurant reportedly serves items from Alice's menu made right from her own recipes.

What a nice way to honor a Waukee fixture, right? Not so much if you ask the Nizzi family.

James Nizzi said he and other family members have asked the owners of Harvest Moon to refrain from using the Alice's Spaghetti Land name.

Denise Kelly, owner of the Harvest Moon says she wasn't aware of the Nizzi family's opposition to the tribute nights until recently.

"The only member of the Nizzi family I talked to 5.5 years ago was Jim," Kelly wrote in an e-mail to Waukee Patch. "The restaurant had been closed for a couple of years already and he said it was ok for us to do as a tribute to Alice's place as it was only once a month, he didn't want us to call it by the restaurant name, so we called it a Tribute to Alice's Menu. Neither the name or their version of the recipe is trademarked we checked before we considered doing it."

James Nizzi says the tribute nights are an insult to Alice's legacy. Nizzi, who still lives in Waukee, said his family never authorized the Harvest Moon's use of Alice's name. Moreover, he claims, Alice's recipes were never written down, making it even more of a mystery how the Harvest Moon can say its food is authentically Alice's.

"It doesn't sit well with me or my family," said Nizzi. "They never asked us if this would be OK and I don't know how in the world they would ever get her recipes. She never wrote a single thing down. With Alice, it was a process — a handful of this and some of that. It was a lot of physical labor. I learned by watching and working beside her over the years."

Nizzi, who still caters using Alice's famous dishes, said he doesn't want the Alice's Spaghetti Land name to be tarnished by another restaurant serving an inferior product. Though he has yet to try the menu at Harvest Moon himself, he says he can't imagine it's at all accurate.

"Just from what I've heard, the food isn't at all representative of what we used to prepare," Nizzi said. "I don't want someone going there thinking that what they're getting is somehow associated with Alice's."

Kelly says if the family is indeed so unhappy with Harvest Moon and their use of Alice's name, she would be willing to change it.

"We didn't want to do it initially because that is not the type of restaurant we are...but we kept being asked by Dallas Center folks to do it so they could relive their memories of gathering on a Sunday together for some Italian food at Alice's, " she wrote. "We truly wish the family well. We don't pay to advertise this, it just is and if they don't want us to use Alice's name in the tribute we could change it on the website, but the story is the same on why we do it."

Fans of Alice's Unite

In the wake of the dispute, one positive has come of this — Alice's Spaghetti Land now has its own fan page on Facebook.

Posted Wednesday by a member of the Nizzi family, I Love Alice's Spaghetti Land reunites Alice's fans, allowing them to share stories and gather information on how they still experience Alice's mouth-watering menu made by members of Alice's family. By Friday morning, the page already had more than 70 fans.

Kelly Hammen Nizzi January 27, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Have I tried the Harvest Moon's menu? LOL, no, and I don't imagine any of us will. It would be like being given a diamond ring and then finding out it is only cubic zirconia. My best memories? Meeting my husband while working there. No dishwasher, so I hand washed all those dishes. The Italian women going at each other in the kitchen. My wedding rehearsal. Birthday parties in the "back room". Italian salads with ranch dressing, handmade ravioli, cavatelli with extra cheese, big..and I mean big... meatballs soaked in sauce and Alice's pizza.
Kelly Hammen Nizzi January 27, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Nice article and thank you. Denise Kelly is mincing words here. Jim and I have asked the Harvest Moon to quit using Alice's name, Alice's Spaghettiland and advertising that they are using her recipes. I can't stop her from doing a "tribute" but have requested she not have Alice's name associated with it. This request has simply been ignored. One of our former employees has worked at the Harvest Moon. I'm guessing she shared what she knew of our recipes. I can't even begin to count how many people know, though, the ingredients that are in Alice's sauce. How to prepare it is a different story. That is the key. Many people have tried and all have failed, including the Harvest Moon. The difference? The others aren't trying to sell it for a profit. That is the ultimate insult. Alice's would have a packed house on weekends. Harvest Moon is down to "the third Sunday of every month, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m." This should be a good barometer as to how close the recipes taste. The message I would like to get out is simply this...Alice's Spaghetti Land and the Nizzi family are not associated in any way with the Harvest Moon. Please quit riding on the coattails of our restaurant. Thank you.
Jen February 02, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Why, WHY would Dallas Center residents ask a non-Italian restaurant in a completely different town to prepare Alice's food unless they were touting that they had the recipes? Denise Kelly is playing the nice guy because she has time on her side. My parents (the former owners) were VERY upset about this when it started 5 years ago and even sought legal advice. That was when they learned that the name Alice's Spaghettiland was not trademarked. It's not a surprise though. Everyone that came into Alice's was considered & treated like family. She would never have expected any of her customers to steal her brand for their own profit. Why would Denise Kelly have needed to look into whether or not Alice's was trademarked if according to her my family gave her the ok? She doesn't want to admit that she saw an opportunity to take a reputation that her own place had not earned and profit off of it. She doesn't want to admit that because that is not what small town people do. Her customers wouldn't approve, and Alice wouldn't approve. In fact, Alice never minced words. I can hear her voice telling Denise Kelly exactly what she thinks of her. Which may be where some of us got our fight. We fight out of respect and love for Alice and her name and reputation. She worked her entire life to earn that and we can't sit back and let a "bar" try to take ownership of some of that.
james February 02, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Again I would like state that Alice's Spaghettiland and the Nizzi family are not in anyway associated with "that place" in DC.
Sara February 19, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Good thing that Alice's spaghettiland isn't open anymore, I wouldn't want to go their with how they treat people who want to remember the good times somewhere else. It's not the customers fault that the restaurant closed and now you are punishing the for going somewhere else and celebrating what good memories they had back then. I bet all their memories are now filled with sadness with how you all are acting. Let people have there memories, you should be proud that Alice is being remembered. Maybe we should just forget about her and never mention her. Bet that would make you happy if no one cared to remember her.
Jen February 27, 2013 at 11:11 PM
How is the Harvest Moon doing nowadays? Oh yeah...they are out of business. Such a shock considering their business practices.
Kelly Hammen Nizzi March 05, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Sara - Reread this part - We fight out of respect and love for Alice and her name and reputation. She worked her entire life to earn that and we can't sit back and let a "bar" try to take ownership of some of that. The family of Alice Nizzi did not feel that Alice's Spaghettiland was represented well by the Dallas Center restaurant. We did not "punish" anybody, rather, we were trying to preserve those "good times" and "good memories" that you mentioned yourself. There are people all over the place who actually know Alice's recipes and have been trying to recreate them with limited success....the difference is that they are not SELLING it using her name. The Kelly's were attempting to profit from Alice's lifelong work and THAT is what upset our family the most. I am sorry if you feel our old customers were being mistreated. I, on the other hand, believe our old customers deserved better.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »