CEDAR RAPIDS — Inside Moco Game Room & Hot Dog Bar, vintage lamps and mirrors line the walls, sourced from places like Habitat for Humanity Restore and Goodwill.
“We like old school things with character. We don’t like just going to the store and buying things,” co-owner Justin Zehr said.
He and his business partner Tim Kindl said they wanted the aesthetic of their eatery, which opened Feb. 28, to fit in the neighborhood of the Irish District.
“We’re building a place in a pretty historical area of town,” Kindl said. “People are super attached to this area. We wanted to nod to it but also put our own spin on it.”
The building was most recently Dick’s Tap & Shake and before that was longtime neighborhood landmark Mahoney’s Irish Pub.
With new owners taking over the building next door, which now houses the Old Neighborhood Pub, Kindl and Zehr said they see the neighborhood — part of the bigger College District — on the upswing.
The city council adopted a strategic action plan for the College District in December, which includes things like improved bike trails, repairs to sidewalks and other infrastructure upgrades, as well as ideas such as promoting historic landmarks.
“This neighborhood is going in a very positive direction,” Zehr said.
They followed a similar strategy when opening their other restaurant, Local Pour, in Kingston Village in March 2018.
“Our thought process is to kind of get in early in neighborhoods and help turn them around,” Zehr said.
More restaurants may be in the works for the duo in the future, but they weren’t ready to talk about those plans yet. For now, they are focused on getting Moco off to a strong start.
Named in honor of Mount Mercy University and Coe College, they said they want their restaurant to be a place where families, college students and adults in the neighborhood will all feel comfortable.
Along with games like pool, foosball and shuffleboard, there are wooden table top and board games that visitors can take to their seats.
General manager Kenyon Thorp said the restaurant plans to have regular events throughout the week, including live music, karaoke and trivia nights.
“This place has such a legacy of being a place where people came to listen to music and hang out,” she said.
The menu features loaded hot dogs, nachos, sloppy joes and sides.
Hot dogs come topped with a wide variety of ingredients, from traditional combinations like ketchup, mustard, onion and relish on the Dodger Dog to creations like the Hey-Ya Dog, topped with kimchi, miso sauce, pickled radish and cilantro.
All of it, from the food to the games to the antique lion statues standing guard over the room, are meant to create an atmosphere of fun, Kindl and Zehr said.
“We wanted to give people a place to hang out for a while, to have food and not just drink,” Zehr said.
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If You Go:
• What: Moco Game Room & Hot Dog
• Where: 1600 E Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Hours subject to change.
• Details: (319) 320-6040