Centro grew from an inkling of an idea to the hottest new thing in Des Moines metro area dining when the dreams of several entrepreneurs connected at the corner of Tenth and Locust. Developer Harry Bookey took on the challenge in late 2001 with the renovation of the Masonic Temple with a vision of restoring the building to its original splendor. Harry with his partner and wife, Pamela Bass-Bookey sought to create a new city center with entertainment, culture and fine dining.
George Formaro, a young Italian restaurateur famous for his artisan breads, had mined success from a small sandwich shop and deli called South Union, but longed for more, a venue where he could better display his culinary gifts and creativity. Harry believed the appeal of South Union would be a perfect fit for the new Temple and called George to talk. As they toured the dilapidated building, George fell in love with the majesty of the building and its dramatic high ceilings, not to mention high-profile location in the burgeoning western Gateway. The two inked a deal to move South Union to the Temple and also to create a locally-owned restaurant that would be totally new and different for Des Moines.