116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Midwest comfort classics at Rodina are taking on a new form as an upscale Czech Village establishment pivots to a new menu and name.
SureBurger, which previously appeared as a pop-up in Rodina last January, brought its menu back Jan. 6 for a slightly longer stay — at least through the end of January.
SureBurger was already being planned for a permanent location in Iowa City as Rodina owners Chef Samuel Charles and Phoebe Charles eyed real estate, although that realization was many months away. But after the failure of Rodina’s two walk-in coolers, they decided to move SureBurger’s opening to 1507 C St. SW.
“This is an immediate pivot that we feel comfortable making,” said Samuel Charles, who was named Chef of the Year in 2021. “We pride ourselves on the reputation we’ve gained as Rodina. We see (SureBurger) as something we truly believe in that we can adequately execute with the kitchen and fridge space we have.”
The restaurant, already hit by the loss of New Year’s Eve revenue after closing because of staff outages on its biggest night of the year, received a second punch after New Year’s Day when both of the restaurant’s walk-in coolers failed. The outdoor one froze over; the indoor one got too warm. All of their food product was lost.
Where: 1507 C St. SW, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Phone: (319) 200-2515
Details: SureBurger’s menu includes elevated but straightforward burgers and fries, a pork tenderloin sandwich, two varieties of fried chicken, pan-fried crab, oysters and more.
In addition to the SureBurger menu, Rodina will continue to accept reservations for Sunday brunch service. Happy hour will continue with the restaurant’s full bar program daily; late night happy hours are offered Friday and Saturday.
Special dinner events already scheduled with Rodina will continue as planned.
SureBurger’s tenure will depend in part on how long it takes to procure new walk-in coolers amid unprecedented supply chain disruptions with the pandemic, and whether the costs can be covered. The new concept of curated burgers, upscale bar fare and select seafood allows the restaurant to operate with the limited refrigeration space it has left.
“We’re in the middle of dealing with our insurance company and figuring out what potentially might be the solution as far as a time frame,” Chef Charles said. “We honestly, truly don’t know.”
The return of Rodina may depend on whether insurance is willing to cover the cost of the new coolers. New coolers can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $25,000 each, according to the chef — a difficult item to budget after significant revenue losses.
“We’re taking it day by day,” he said. “It might take us a little bit to get that momentum to drop that kind of money.”
Carrying on in the spirit of Rodina, the SureBurger dinner and drink menu is a few steps above your average burger joint. Starting with straightforward burgers, the menu includes two varieties of fried chicken, a pork tenderloin sandwich, half-shell oysters, pan-fried crab and more. House-cut Russet fries are served salted and crispy, with the option for gravy if you like them smothered.
The signature SureBurger is a quarter-pound smashburger cooked through with elevated fixings on a Brioche bun from The Local Crumb in Mount Vernon: lettuce, shredded Prairie Breeze cheese from Milton, sweet pickles, aioli, and house ketchup.
“It is the essence of a really good, straightforward burger,” Charles said.
Snow crab clusters are fried with the shell on, but coated with a breading that makes a tasty adventure out of cracking a crab. Fried pickles — standard bar fare — deliver a pleasant surprise using a sweet pickle variety. Dessert options vary by the night.
The restaurant’s bar program continues with the same caliber of drinks it offered before, retaining some of its signature favorites from Rodina like the gin and Green Chartreuse-based Last Word, while adding a bevy of recreated classics like a peach spritz and two old-fashioned varieties.
SureBurger is considering expanding hours to open on Mondays in February.
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