Iowa City's Devotay restaurant to change hands

New owner will keep name, concept and staff

  • Photo

IOWA CITY — Devotay, a Northside neighborhood mainstay for tapas and locally grown food, will change hands Jan. 1.

Kurt Friese and Kim McWane Friese, who opened Devotay in Dec. 5, 1996, announced Tuesday — 21 years later to the day — they have sold the restaurant to Mark Paterno, an Iowa City realtor who owns Marco’s Grilled Cheese and Marco’s Taxicab Company.

“We’ve been looking for the right person for more than two years,” Friese said Wednesday afternoon.

“It was vital that Devotay continue as is, with the same great staff, with the dedication to local ingredients and so on. And in Mark, we found that person.”

The name, which will remain the same, is a combination of the names of the Frieses’ children, Devon and Taylor, who were six and nine when the couple opened the restaurant. Devon Friese now runs Devotay’s bar program, Friese said.

Kurt Friese 53, was elected to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in 2016. He told The Gazette last year he tries to source food for the restaurant from no more than 100 to 150 miles from Iowa City to ensure freshness and to support the local producers who eat at his restaurant.

The Frieses are selling the restaurant because “it’s time to move on,” Kurt Friese said on Wednesday. “My wife had moved on from the restaurant business six years ago, and it was time for me to do the same.”

Devotay specializes in traditional paella, a Spanish casserole-like dish, and tapas, the little bites that are a staple of bars in Spain.

“We put our own twist on some, and are very traditional with others,” said Devotay Executive Chef Daniel Knowles, who will remain in his position, as will Sous Chef Morgan Weiss, manager Raleigh Yoder, and the entire crew.

Realtor Ryan O’Leary, who helped put the deal together, said the Frieses turned down quite a few offers because they wanted to make sure the restaurant concept and staff stayed put. Maintaining these aspects of the restaurant isn’t required as part of a contract, but is an understanding between the sellers and buyer, Friese added.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

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.