116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Andy Deutmeyer and Vic Kuper weren’t planning on opening a restaurant anytime soon, but when a friend who works in commercial realty told them a space was opening up in downtown Cedar Rapids, they figured they might as well take a look.
The space, on the ground floor of Alliant Tower, used to house Fresh Deli and Grill, which closed at the end of June. Less than six weeks later, Deutmeyer and Kuper’s new restaurant, Tower Cafe, opened it’s doors.
“We were very fortunate to inherit the existing staff that were here. They’re awesome. And because of the things that are coming up in the future for Vic and I, we knew we needed to bring more people in so we brought in a third person who has also been awesome,” Deutmeyer said. “We are very blessed to have a really good team already in just a very short amount of time.”
Deutmeyer and Kuper have been in the food business most of their lives. Both of them started cooking when they were in high school, and they’ve been working together on different projects in Cedar Rapids for 22 years now.
For the past four years, they’ve been running a business called Blend, named after a restaurant they used to own in downtown Cedar Rapids before the area was drastically changed by the 2008 flood.
Blend is a contract dining services company. They run internal catering and cafeteria management for corporate clients, essentially creating a small restaurant inside a business for employees. Blend currently has a location with a company in North Liberty, and they’re opening another location in a few weeks in Dubuque.
“We just snuck in a restaurant in between,” Deutmeyer said.
The fact that Kuper and Deutmeyer already had an active food business with a premade menu made it easy for them to get Tower Cafe started so quickly.
Tower Cafe Menu
The menu at the Tower Cafe features a variety of lunch options, including the Tower Burger, which is a 1/3 pound burger with the works on a brioche bun, the Asian Chicken Salad, which has fresh cucumbers, radishes and other vegetables mixed in with juicy grilled chicken and crunchy wonton, and the Carne Asada Street Tacos, which include chili marinated steak with queso fresco, salsa verde and fresh veggies.
The new restaurant’s menu is similar to the menu at the North Liberty Blend location, but it also includes weekly specials, like last week’s gyro special, to help regular customers avoid menu fatigue.
Kuper said when they first opened the restaurant, they were changing the lunch special daily, but found that people were still trying to figure out what they liked on the regular menu, so adding new items that often caused confusion.
“We’re still trying to feel out what people like,” Kuper said.
The menu also includes a changing bagel special, available for both breakfast and lunch, made with locally baked fresh bagels. Last week’s bagel special included sweet red onion, salmon, and crumbled hard boiled egg with whipped cream cheese.
Lunch is served at Tower Cafe from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The breakfast menu, which includes coffee from Dash Roasters, breakfast pizza and other breakfast staples, is served from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. with a break between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Prices range from $9.50 for the classic gyro to $6.50 for the bagel special.
Deutmeyer said keeping the menu the same between their businesses made sense, because the majority of the customers at Tower Cafe are similar to the customers at Blend: corporate employees out for their lunch break.
“People have limited time during the day. We understand that and we want to try to cater to that need. So, we wanted to make sure everything can be prepared fresh but also very quickly,” Deutmeyer said.
A lot of the items on the menu are familiar foods. Deutmeyer said they wanted to hit a lot of the different cravings people might have during the workday.
“It’s not a super huge menu, so we try to get it as well rounded as we can. We’re just trying to make sure there’s something there for everybody, for all tastes,” Deutmeyer said. “We’re not trying to be one thing or another. We want to appeal to as many people as we can with the offerings that we have.”
Comments: (319) 398-8328; email@example.com
What: Tower Cafe
Where: 200 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids
When: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; Closed Saturday and Sunday
Contact: (319) 200-5999; towercafecr.com
Details: Dine in or carryout; online ordering at towercafecr.com