CEDAR RAPIDS — A year and a half after closing his NewBo restaurant Betas, Joel Kane is back with a new venture, Lost & Found Provisions & Spirits.
Kane, 27, had started at the NewBo restaurant as a server when it was called Bata’s. He bought it in 2016 when he was just 23 years old and later renamed it Betas.
But he said while Betas always did well, it never quite felt like his. So when Des Moines pizza restaurant Fong’s wanted to open a Cedar Rapids location, and approached him with an offer to vacate the building, he said yes. Betas closed at the end of 2017.
With Lost & Found, which opened May 31, Kane said he has a chance to start from the beginning with his own vision, rather than continuing to carry the torch of someone else’s restaurant.
“With a new, fresh start, it’s really easier to have a thorough concept rather than steering a ship that’s already sailing,” he said.
He named the restaurant after an Elliott Smith song of the same name, with the lyrics “Don’t go home, Angelina. Stay with me, hanging around in the lost and found.” That’s evokes what he hopes for the restaurant, Kane said — a place where people want to linger and socialize.
He hired two chefs, Camilla Starr and Anthony Valvoda, both graduates of Kirkwood Community College’s culinary arts program, who collaborated with him to develop the menu.
The food lineup features starters like beignets with honey butter and edamame hummus, entrees like roasted chicken, served with artichoke mousse and harissa brown butter sauce, and desserts like berry Pavlova.
“We’re going for something people already know, but with a unique spin on it,” Starr said.
As an example, Kane pointed to their arancini, typically an Italian dish of stuffed rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Their version has Gouda, mushroom tempura, wildflowers and lemon garlic aioli.
Starr, who was born in Russia, said some her homeland inspires some of her ideas, like serving a potato latke with their yellowfin tuna dish.
“We want to surprise people,” she said. “We don’t want to be just another place.”
The chefs use locally sourced ingredients when they can, such as bread from Mount Vernon bakery Local Crumb.
“The concept is basically fresh, good food in a really comfortable atmosphere, with a good selection of spirits,” Kane said.
The drinks list features Iowa craft beers, wine and cocktails, along with a large selection of bourbons and whiskeys, which he plans to keep building up.
Originally, Kane planned to open Lost & Found in Uptown Marion, but that fell through, and he turned his attention to Czech Village.
“I wanted to be in a historic building, preferably in a historic district,” he said. “And I feel like the Village is really coming back as a hub of Cedar Rapids.”
The building was formerly Ernie’s Tavern. Kane undertook a complete remodel of the space, including adding a kitchen. Uncovering the original floor under layers of tile was an unexpected benefit of the bitter winter, when the cold caused the floor to heave up.
The dining room features custom carpentry, with a long bar in front of floating shelves and a seating bench that stretches along two walls. The Czech Republic flag colors of dark blue and red dominate, a nod to the neighborhood, along with a black and white photo of crowds gathered during the 1989 Czech Velvet Revolution hanging above the door.
In the future, Kane plans to add lunch hours and also hopes to add patio seating outside. The ultimate goal, he stressed, is for a place people can enjoy whether they’re looking for a nice meal or a casual evening out, or just a drink at the bar.
“I’ve always just enjoyed serving people. I love the instant feeling of watching someone’s night get better because of the food and experience you’ve given them,” he said. “Every night is kind of like hosting a dinner party. It doesn’t really ever get old.”
If You Go
• What: Lost & Found Provisions & Spirits
• Where: 69 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
• Hours: 3 to 11 ap.m. Tuesday to Saturday
• Details: (319) 449-5323, villagelostandfound.com
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