The brew tanks are installed and the kitchen equipment has arrived at Backpocket Pilot Pub, and manager Sarah Barickman is looking forward to opening the doors in 2017 and serving up craft beers, pizzas, burgers and more at just one of several food and drink projects we’re watching for in early 2017. We know this list isn’t comprehensive; there are so many projects going on in the Corridor we simply didn’t have room to include them all, a very good problem to have. As we eagerly await their openings, we thought we’d provide you with updates on a few of the places we’re most excited for.
Backpocket Pilot Pub and The Office
415 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
The old Sokol Gymnasium building is gaining new life as developer Charles Jones transforms it into two bars, with apartments on the upper floors. The first floor will house Backpocket Pilot Pub, a second location for Coralville’s Backpocket Brewing Company. To compliment the flagship location, the Pilot Pub will focus on experimental small batches that will only be available at Backpocket’s taprooms, unlike the brewery’s line of beers that are bottled and sold at area retailers. The Pilot Pub will offer Backpocket Brewing Company’s menu to start, eventually adding burgers and entrees. With plenty of renovation work left to do as of mid-December, Barickman said she’s hopeful the remaining tasks will come together quickly and they can open in mid-January.
“It’s exciting now, because a week ago you walked in and were like, really, this is going to be a brewery?” she said. “But now you can see it.”
Backpocket also is planning a third location, a taproom at 333 E. 10th St., Dubuque. That location, in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District, will not be a production facility but will offer the brewery a chance to expand into a new market. They hope to open the 2,000 square foot facility in February.
The basement of the Sokol building, meanwhile, is being transformed into a speakeasy-style lounge and cigar bar called The Office by Lost Cuban owner Jess Streit.
Rapid Creek Cidery
4823 Dingleberry Road NE, Iowa City
Iowa City mainstay Wilson’s Orchard is expanding its offerings with Rapid Creek Cidery, which will offer Wilson’s hard cider on tap along with a full restaurant. James Beard Award-semifinalist and chef Matt Steigerwald, who previously owned the Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon and ran the kitchens at New Pioneer Co-op, will oversee the restaurant.
Owner Katie Goerint, daughter of Wilson’s owner Paul Rasch, will manage the taproom and an associated events space that already has begun hosting weddings. She said the restaurant will change seasonally and will focus on local produce, serving meat from heritage sheep and pigs raised at Wilson’s and cows from a neighboring farm. The livestock will be fed apple byproducts from the cider processing facility. The cidery also will produce small batch ciders made from single apple varieties that will only be available at the taproom. Goerint said they hope for a March opening.
1203 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
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The owners of downtown eatery Cobble Hill are expanding with a second restaurant, Caucho. Located behind the new Brewhemia coffee shop location in the New Bohemia neighborhood’s National building, Caucho will feature street-style tacos and serve up mezcal liquor at the bar. Along with Cobble Hill’s chef and co-owner Andy Schumacher, the kitchen will feature eats from former Sauce sous-chef Joshua Tibbetts. They are planning for a mid-January opening.
565 Cameron Way, North Liberty
This coffee shop and cafe will feature Intelligentsia-brand coffee, afternoon high tea, pastries and desserts, a small lunch menu and coffee-based cocktails, wine and beer. General manager and co-owner Nasi Moradi said they are planning for an early January opening.
219 16th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
A pizzeria, bar and small music venue is under construction in the New Bohemia neighborhood. Owner Brett McCormick is refurbishing two buildings on the block, one for the restaurant and the other for an entertainment hall with an outdoor amphitheater behind it. He is hoping for an early spring opening.
Big Grove in Iowa City
1225 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City
Solon’s Big Grove Brewery is expanding into Iowa City, with plans for a brewery, taproom and restaurant in a 28,000 square foot warehouse near the corner of Gilbert Street and Highway 6 in Iowa City. The space will provide a significant increase to Big Grove’s brewing capacity, with a 20-barrel brew house plus 60 barrels for fermentation, compared to Big Grove’s current 3.5 barrel system in Solon. Owner Matt Swift said the new space will feature live music, two bars, games, patios and fire pits along with food and beer. He said brew house equipment has arrived, Chef Benjamin Smart is finalizing the menu, and they are hoping to open in the first quarter of 2017.
Grin N Goose
227 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
The former location of Zins in downtown Cedar Rapids won’t be closed much longer. Dave Grawe, owner of the Pour House in Waverly, and Bret Klein have been revamping the space with locally designed decor and plan to open bar and restaurant Grin N Goose. Originally billed as coming in fall 2016, their Facebook page promises an opening announcement soon.
575 Cameron Way, North Liberty
This burger joint will feature milkshakes, cocktails and beer alongside food. They recently announced a New Year’s Eve opening, so you won’t have to wait long to give them a try.
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