Barbecue restaurant to open at Westdale in Cedar Rapids

Former bank to house Sugarfire Smoke House

The F&M Bank opened the Westdale branch, at 2350 Edgewood Rd. SW, in December 2015.
The F&M Bank opened the Westdale branch, at 2350 Edgewood Rd. SW, in December 2015.

A St. Louis-based barbecue restaurant chain will open its 16th location in May on the perimeter of Westdale Town Center in southwest Cedar Rapids.

Sugarfire Smoke House will be housed in the former F&M Bank building at 2350 Edgewood Rd. SW.

Co-founders chef Mike Johnson and Charlie Downs will join with J.D. Powers, his wife, Johanna, his brother Henry Powers and local residents Mark and Diane Niebuhr who will own and operate Sugarfire Cedar Rapids as a franchise.

The investor group purchased the 3,200-square-foot building last week. It will be remodeled to accommodate 92 patrons, with interior seating for 60 and 32 additional on an outdoor patio.

Chris Madsen, owner of Arrowhead Construction in Marion, is serving as Sugarfire Cedar Rapids’ general contractor and will begin construction early this month.

J.D. Powers has been in the insurance industry for more than 11 years, covering many restaurants and bars including Sugarfire since 2012. Henry Powers owns a small grass-fed cattle operation and will be one of many farms to supply Sugarfire Cedar Rapids.

Johanna Powers grew up just outside Cedar Rapids, and her parents, Mark and Diane Niebuhr, continue to live in Benton County.

The Niebuhrs have owned and operated Hope’s Bridal and Prom for 35 years and will offer barbecue catering to their wedding clientele.


“It’s extremely exciting to bring some of the best food from my new home of St. Louis to my native Cedar Rapids,” Johanna Powers said.

Angela Guzman will manage Sugarfire Cedar Rapids’ restaurant and catering operations. Guzman has worked closely with Mike Johnson in other locations and most recently was the managing partner of LongHorn Steakhouse in Coralville.

Sugarfire Cedar Rapids will be open seven days a week and will provide counter-service, call-ahead curbside pickup, delivery, catering and the brand’s first drive-through window.

Sugarfire Smoke House opened its flagship restaurant in St. Louis in 2012, and Johnson and Downs have expanded its imprint across Missouri to nine locations.

The company has restaurants in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky and plans to open a Dallas venue this year.

The Sugarfire Cedar Rapids menu will be consistent with other locations, with premium meats made-to-order on Ole Hickory smokers offered alongside signature sides and sauces.

The counter-service menu also will highlight concept staples such as house made cookies, pies and milkshakes. Daily specials incorporating locally farmed produce and meats will be announced on the restaurant’s social media platforms each morning.

Manchester-based F&M Bank in July 2019 announced it would close that branch office when the sale of the building was completed.

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