Arts & Culture

Something for everyone: Work continues on Sokol Building with new Hawks Nest bar

Cloud Onion Rings is one of the appetizers at the Hawks Nest Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 2, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cloud Onion Rings is one of the appetizers at the Hawks Nest Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 2, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With black and white couches and 110 square inches of screens showing sports behind the bar, new downtown Cedar Rapids bar Hawks Nest has a very different feel from it’s sister business Backpocket Pilot Pub.

The tiny bar opened March 1 in a room just off the lobby from Backpocket’s brewery, tap room and restaurant.

While Backpocket serves original brews, the taps at Hawks Nest offer more mainstream beers. That’s on purpose, said general manager Nick Petersen.

“We have the craft beer angle handed right over there, so we might as well have a different angle in here,” he said. “This is a more fun, more casual environment.”

They designed the Hawks Nest to appeal to sports fans who are looking for a good spot to watch a game in an intimate setting, said business co-owner and building developer Charles Jones.

“On the wall behind the bar, four 55-inch screens are grouped into one giant screen and can be programmed to either play different games or play one game across them all.

“The ultimate sports experience is like you’re at the game,” he said. “And because of the size, you don’t even have to get up to order another drink.”


The bar is available to rent; “It’s the perfect size for one group to be served well,” Jones said.

They share a liquor license with Backpocket, but Hawks Nest has it’s own drink menus and serves up appetizers like nachos and wings and a couple of sandwiches rather than a full menu. Backpocket’s chef Antonio Rivera, who until recently worked at White Star, oversees both the Backpocket and Hawks Nest menus.

Hawks Nest opened March 1 in the Sokol Building, the former downtown Sokol Gymnasium Jones has been redeveloping. About a year ago, he opened Backpocket in the main space and renovated condos on the upper floors. He said the plan for the Hawks Nest came about as after he and other partners saw the space at the front of the building was being underutilized.

“It looked like more seating for Backpocket, so it wasn’t that compelling,” he said.

With the debut of Hawks Nest, the renovations are entering the next stage. Across the hall, they plan to open a cigar lounge and smoking room, which Jones said was similar in concept to a hookah bar, except with cigars. In the basement, work continues on another bar, the Speakeasy.

This spring, they plan to open outside seating on a patio in front of the building, with a permit from the city that will allow them to use the parking spaces in front of the bar. In the alley behind the bar, they envision transforming the space into a German-stye beer garden by trading the dumpsters and bare concrete for wooden tables, strings of lights and a screen to project movies and sports on.

“We’re going to have something for everyone in this building,” Petersen said.

If you go

• What: Hawks Nest

• Where: 415 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

• Details: (319) 362-2739

l Comments: (319) 398-8339;



Foreigner won't be so foreign much longer to a group of Solon High School singers. Twenty-five students representing the school's choral program will join the rock band and the Dave Eggar Orchestra onstage Thursday night (3/29) a ...

When stage and screen star Brian Stokes Mitchell shares the Hancher spotlight with the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday night, he's going to 'give these students the experiences of a lifetime,' Hancher CEO Chuck ...

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.

Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.