Mount Vernon and Lisbon hosting first ever Restaurant Week

Stephen Mally/The Gazette

Madison Gritton, barista, prepares a cup of coffee June 20 at Fuel in Mount Vernon. Fuel is participating in Restaurant Week.
Stephen Mally/The Gazette Madison Gritton, barista, prepares a cup of coffee June 20 at Fuel in Mount Vernon. Fuel is participating in Restaurant Week.

Joe Jennison wants to welcome you to some of his favorite tables.

The director of the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group, he is enthusiastically promoting the first ever Mount Vernon and Lisbon Restaurant Week.

“We wanted to challenge diners and culinary tourists to come and try all the different dining experiences,” Jennison said.

From Sept. 15 to 24, area restaurants will have features and specials to entice diners to take a bite of all the pizza, coffee, barbecue and burgers they can eat.

And people might be surprised just how many options there are, Jennison said.

“As I’m speaking to you I’m sitting at Baxa’s Sutliff Store & Tavern. It’s just such a unique experience,” Jennison said. “We now have a barbecue restaurant (Big’s BBQ) in uptown Mount Vernon. I was there last night, and a gentleman turned to me and said, ‘This is like eating in someone’s living room, it’s so homey.’ And then there’s a full service, upscale place like Palisades (Cafe) and a breakfast place like Skillet. We’ve got a family pizza place (Alger’s Pizza Palace) and a wood fired pizza place (Lincoln Wine Bar).”

The Restaurant Week idea came from Main Street Iowa, an organization of Main Street districts from around the state, which encouraged different towns to hold Restaurant Week events to promote their town’s eateries.

Throughout Restaurant Week, diners are encouraged to share their experiences by using #MSIRestarauntWeek on Instagram and Twitter. Diners who eat at five of the 18 participating restaurants can turn in a Restaurant Passport to be entered into a drawing for a two-night stay in Mount Vernon courtesy of Sleep Inn & Suites.

The theme for Mount Vernon and Lisbon’s Restaurant Week is “Meet the Culinary Artists of Mount Vernon and Lisbon,” with portraits of bakers, owners, bartenders and chefs from each participating business online at


“I do believe it’s the people that make any restaurant,” Jennison said. “It’s not necessarily the food or the atmosphere, it’s the people. I go back to restaurants for the people I know and love; I get excited to go back and visit them. That ‘Cheers’ song goes through my head: you’re going back to places where everybody knows your name.”

One of the people on the Mount Vernon restaurant scene is Jesse Sauerbrei, owner of Lincoln Wine Bar. He said efforts like Restaurant Week that help bring in outside visitors are a boon for his business.

“The Wine Bar wouldn’t be able to survive off just the local economy of Mount Vernon and Lisbon. We need that destination appeal to get people to come it,” he said.

Having Cornell College in town provides some business, but most customers drive from Cedar Rapids or Iowa City for a wood-fired pizzas and a glass of wine.

“It just shows that small towns can still survive if you have a driving force behind them trying to promote their entertainment,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8434;


Eighteen Mount Vernon and Lisbon eateries have specials planned during Restaurant Week. Here’s where to eat.

Addy’s Public House

126 E. Main St., Lisbon

l CONTACT: (319) 408-1096,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

l THE DISH: Fish and chips special for $7. The dish is made with fresh cut Atlantic cod, beer-battered and served with hand-cut fries. Happy Hour specials are offered Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Alger’s Pizza Palace

106 First St. SW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-6971,

l HOURS: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: The Alger family has owned and operated this pizza restaurant for 31 years. The restaurant’s East Wall is covered in a large mural painted by Mickey Woods that challenges patrons to find 40 hidden things in the mural. For Restaurant Week, Pizza Palace will be offering a “large for a medium charge.”

Baxa’s Sutliff

Store & Tavern

5546 130th St. NE, Lisbon

l CONTACT: (319) 624-2204,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday


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l THE DISH: Baxa’s Sutliff Store & Tavern sits on the Cedar River adjacent to the Sutliff Bridge, a historic structure that offers a one-of-a-kind view and experience. Diners can choose to eat in or sit outside and take in views of river. For Restaurant Week, Sutliff Store & Tavern will be offering a breaded chicken club with French fries for a mere $7.95.

Big’s BBQ Brewpub

124 Second Ave. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 535-1060,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

l THE DISH: This former rental house in the Main Street District is now home to Big’s BBQ Brewpub. For Restaurant Week, Big’s will be offering brisket burnt ends, barbecue chili and a special Octoberfest beer, as well as home-brewed root beer floats. All beer will be half-price until 6 p.m.

Bill’s Tap

102 E. Main St., Lisbon

l CONTACT: (319) 455-5029,

l HOURS: 3 p.m. to closing time (varies) Monday to Saturday

l THE DISH: Bill’s offers a popular Saturday night steak dinner. For Restaurant Week, Bill’s is offering Happy Hours specials every day. While there, check out the original landscape painting created in 1966 by artist “Pleten.”

Bon Appetit at

Cornell College

600 First Ave. SW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-4363,

l HOURS: 7:30 to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: This locally sourced, scratch-cooked eatery offers all-you-can-eat buffet-style meals. During Restaurant Week, for one price, choose from Ethiopian, Spanish, American Classics, Italian, soup/salad bar and daily fresh-baked desserts.

Chameleon’s Pub & Grub

119 First St. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-8654,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to late night daily

l THE DISH: Waldorf chicken salad special and a bourbon burger with fries, $10 each.

Fuel Art & Espresso

103 First St. NE, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-8429,

l HOURS: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: Mama Ouverson has been making Fuel’s baked goods from scratch for more than 12 years. Expect some special baked items for Restaurant Week, along with 20 percent off all Fuel swag.


119 W. Main St., Lisbon

l CONTACT: (319) 455-2873,

l HOURS: 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: Gwen’s is a family owned and operated restaurant serving meals in the same spot for 36 years. For Restaurant Week, Gwen plans to offer a hot beef special for $6.95. She also offers buffets every noon and night.

Java Hut

353 Highway 30 SW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-6334

l HOURS: 5:30 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday


l THE DISH: Java Hut is the only coffee shop in the Mount Vernon area that delivers. For Restaurant Week, Java Hut is offering 20 percent off the “Drink of the Day” and a free $5 gift card for every $25 gift card purchased.

Lincoln Wine Bar

125 First St. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-9463,

l HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday

l THE DISH: The Lincoln Wine Bar offers wood-fired pizza baked in an oven specially made for the restaurant in Naples, Italy. For Restaurant Week, The Lincoln Wine Bar will be offering $10 Margarita pizzas every day until 6 p.m.

The Local Crumb

221 First St. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (515) 490-5656,

l HOURS: Mount Vernon Farmers Market vendor most Thursdays, 4 to 6 p.m.

l THE DISH: Small-scale, wholesale bakery producing naturally leavened breads using Iowa-milled grains. This non-retail bakery will offer sourdough and baguettes for sale at Lincoln Wine Bar through Wednesday of Restaurant Week.

Mount Vernon Confections

118 First St. SW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-8834,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: This chocolate shop and ice cream parlor uses fruit from owner’s family farm in many recipes. For Restaurant Week, Mount Vernon Confections will be offering 25 percent off chocolate and ice cream made with farm-fresh fruit.

Palisades Cafe

117 First St. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-4041,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday

l THE DISH: Palisades serves “artful food with a local flair” and always offers an art exhibit over three of the restaurant’s four walls. For Restaurant Week, Palisades will be offering a free beverage with lunch or dinner; or a half-price glass of wine with entree purchase during dinner.

The Perfect Blend Shortbread Co.

224 First St. SW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-6862,

l HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

l THE DISH: The Perfect Blend Shortbread Co. is housed inside a 162-year-old brick building on Mount Vernon’s historic First Street and shares its space with a gift shop, art gallery and a knitting shop. For Restaurant Week, The Perfect Blend will be offering “Baker’s Dozen” pricing on its shortbread. Stop in for free samples.


109 First St. NW, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-8453,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

l THE DISH: Scorz Bar and Grill is a local sports bar with a great menu and game room. For Restaurant Week, Scorz will be offer a burger and fries and fountain drink for $6.99.

Skillet Cafe

101 First St. NE, Mount Vernon

l CONTACT: (319) 895-8540,

l HOURS: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday, additional hours 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday

l THE DISH: Porchetta for $10.95 during Restaurant Week. This slow-roasted pork loin is thinly sliced with slow-cooked greens and goat cheese on house-made Italian flat bread, served with a fresh tomato pesto pasta salad.

Sutliff Cider

382 Sutliff Rd., Lisbon

l CONTACT: (319) 455-4093,

l HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays


l THE DISH: Live music starts at 3 p.m. today and Sept. 24. The cidery will offer 25 percent off first pitcher of hard cider



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