116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Nearly a year after it first opened in February, a Czech Village restaurant is under new ownership.
On Dec. 1, Desiree Lorsung and Nate Gallagher, a couple who have been managing Cedar Rapids restaurants for more than 10 years, took their first official bite at ownership with Czech Town Station.
There, the couple who opened area restaurants like Grin N’ Goose, Bourbon Creek Smokehouse and Pitstop, have poured decades of life experience into something of their own.
After opening Czech Town Station for the Nanke Group 10 months ago with a hand in its early formation on 16th Avenue SW, they can officially call it theirs.
“It’s just what we’ve always wanted. We finally found a home,” said Lorsung, who first worked with Gallagher down the street at the Red Frog 11 years ago.
With a robust, all-day breakfast menu plus salads, sandwiches and mouthwatering specials, Gallagher runs a back-of-house that’s always working on new specials. As the couple see their vision come to fruition, more of those specials, such as the Korean barbecue chicken sandwich, may appear as permanent menu items thanks to customer feedback.
“I have a background in breakfast -- that’s pretty much what I’ve done since I started cooking,” said Gallagher, 32, who has been working in restaurants half his life. “The menu is everything I’ve done that has been a good seller for restaurants I’ve worked at.”
What: Czech Town Station
Address: 69 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Phone: (319) 200-5776
Details: A large all-day breakfast menu of benedicts, waffles, skillets and more is served alongside salads, sandwiches, specialties like goulash and a full bar, including alcoholic frozen beverages and milkshakes. Available for dine-in or carryout.
With dozens of options for benedicts, Mexican breakfast specialties, waffles, skillets, French toast and omelets, the locally-owned Czech Town Station variety and relatively late hours for a breakfast-oriented restaurant gives even stalwarts like Perkins a run for their money. Novelties like cinnamon roll French toast and breakfast tacos present options not available at chains that tend to grab attention for the most important meal of the day.
But unlike some locally-owned breakfast cafes that close early in the afternoon, Czech Town Station also offers plenty to chew on for lunch and dinner — salads; a honey Sriracha chicken sandwich with mango; goulash with dumplings honoring the location’s Czech heritage; and several burgers.
As the couple aim to build up their lunch and dinner offerings to be as strong as breakfast, their mantra is to give the people what they want at all times of the day. The kitchen manager’s specialties aren’t reinventing breakfast food — just attempting to perfect them with a pleasing variety that’s not redundant in Cedar Rapids.
“There’s not a lot of places you can come at 9 at night and get a benedict flight, pancakes, a burger and nachos,” Gallagher said. “If you can do it right, give them some options, it works out.”
Though they’re far from an airport, you may consider one of their many flights to get your mouth around the wide variety, with routes for eggs benedicts, White Russians and mimosas.
“I wanted to not just open a breakfast place. I wanted us to take it to every level we could to be different, to bring something new to the table that everyone wasn’t doing,” said Lorsung.
The new heights with their flights are paralleled at the bar, too.
No longer is your breakfast out limited to coffee and orange juice. Frozen alcoholic beverages, alcoholic milkshakes with favorite cereals and edible shot glasses lined with almond bark are just a few favorites that have caught on quickly.
In a place they’ve made their own, the accomplishment for the pair lies not just in the food, but the memories they’ve made for others through food service. In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, the couple have been sustained by their relationships with diners.
Whether it’s something sweet or savory on the table, it’s the folks sitting at the table who remember her children or the group of senior citizens who come for breakfast at the same time every week that make the industry with unprecedented challenges worth staying in.
“Being that place is what I live for,” said Lorsung, 39. “There’s so many people who come in here who have reaffirmed that.”
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