CEDAR RAPIDS — The owners of Coralville restaurant 30hop had Cedar Rapids on their mind for a long time, but it wasn’t until they saw the building on the corner of Blairs Ferry Road and Rockwell Drive NE that they felt ready to commit to expanding their restaurant footprint north.
“We’ve gotten really good feedback from our Cedar Rapids customers in Coralville over the years,” said managing partner Darin Blum. “We have a lot of regulars there who live in Iowa City but work at Rockwell.”
Plus, the building, with its rooftop patio, fit in perfectly with their existing 30hop model.
Near Rockwell Collins on Blairs Ferry Road, the space originally opened with the short-lived Rock Top Bar & Grill in Sept. 2016, more recently housed Axel’s Sports Grill, which closed in January.
“Rockwell has been our best friend. It’s kind of like an extension of Rockwell’s cafeteria if you’re here during happy hour,” Darin Blum said.
The Cedar Rapids location opened on Labor Day, after an extensive remodel.
“We put the 30hop touch on it,” co-owner Matt Swift said. “We wanted to give it a sense of place and purpose.”
The renovation expanded the size of the kitchen, where computers keep track of orders and help the staff expedite dishes.
“A significant portion of the restaurant is dedicated to the back of house, because when this runs right, everything out there runs right,” Swift said.
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They also opened up the main floor dining space, with a long bar — the restaurant has 78 beer taps — and wide, six foot booths.
“We have a lot of families who need a lot of room,” Swift said.
The roof, on the other hand, is more of an adults-only oasis; only drinks are served there, with no food available, which matches their Coralville business plan.
They plan to install firepits on both the rooftop patio and on the first floor outdoor seating area. For now, space heaters are expanding the patio dining season.
“We’re trying to make it as three-seasons as possible,” Swift said.
Planter boxes lining the exterior of the patios will create a natural barrier between diners and Blairs Ferry Road traffic next spring.
Darin Blum’s brother Dan Blum is another co-owner. As director of operations, he oversees both 30hop locations. The original, in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing, opened four years ago.
The menu is the same as in Coralville, though chefs may offer unique specials.
“It’s West Coast-inspired new American food,” Dan said, elaborating that many dishes have Asian flavors but are distinctly American fusions of cuisines and influences.
Burgers, tacos, wings and loaded mac and cheese sharing menu space with the Yakisoba Bowl, with noodles, wok-cooked vegetables and an “Asian marinade,” and Korean barbecue steak. The menu changes somewhat frequently as dishes rotate in and out.
“The menu is completely different than when we started four years ago,” he said. “I think it really comes down to, what do you want to drink a pint of beer with?”
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Swift is part of 10 different restaurants and breweries, including Blackstone, Mosley’s and Pullman in Iowa City, Big Grove in Iowa City and Solon, and Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty. The restaurant group includes a chain of loosely affiliated businesses, many with a few owners invested in each one. 30hop co-owners include Swift, the Blum brothers, Erik Shewmaker and Brian Flynn. This is the first Cedar Rapids venture for the group.
“I think it’s an exciting business,” Swift said. “You’re building a lot of happiness. Community building is something I’ve gotten really interested in the last five years or so ... Hubs of communities often revolve around a few great pubs or restaurants. As the world becomes more digital, people are still going to need human interactions. We can provide spaces that make that happen.”
l Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
l What: 30hop Cedar Rapids
l Where: 951 Blairs Ferry Road NE, Cedar Rapids
l Hours: Kitchen open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Bar may remain open later; hours will vary.
l Details; (319) 200-2010, 30hop.com