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Old 01-24-2011, 12:19 PM
 
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Hello, my name is Craig, I am currently in Chicago and my wife and I are looking into moving to Iowa city and opening a retail wine studio with small plates. Using local farmers as well as local wineries along with international wines. Just was looking for some feedback as far as can Iowa city use a wine studio serving small plates at a reasonable price. Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing from you.

Take care
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:35 PM
 
1,114 posts, read 2,124,676 times
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Originally Posted by Chefcraig View Post
Hello, my name is Craig, I am currently in Chicago and my wife and I are looking into moving to Iowa city and opening a retail wine studio with small plates. Using local farmers as well as local wineries along with international wines. Just was looking for some feedback as far as can Iowa city use a wine studio serving small plates at a reasonable price. Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing from you.

Take care
I'm in no way enough of an expert to give you a good response....but I'll give one anyways!

I can't think of anything already existing that exactly fits the niche you are describing. The Hearth (a sub-part of 126 - One Twenty Six) and Graze (Graze Restaurant - Welcome to Graze) are the two main small-plate places, although I think it would be safe to say they put themselves forward as more food-first places that also have wine, which sounds a bit different from what you describe. Actually, Devotay (Devotay) might be the closest competition. It happens that I haven't been to any of them, but they all have excellent reputations. None are regularly referred to as inexpensive, though.

Iowa City has a bunch of really, really good restaurants. Which is probably great, in that the population appreciates quality food and supports using local agriculture and ingredients. But its also challenging, because if your food, service, or drinks are merely 'decent' or 'mediocre', you will likely be in trouble.

Downtown Iowa City is going to be interesting to watch for the next few years. Since the city mandated 21-only in bars (used to be 19+), several college-student-type bars have closed, and a few more may be on the way. For the downtown to survive, I think its going to have to retool as a more 'mature' destination. I think that can happen, keying around entertainment like Englert Theatre (The Englert Theatre, Iowa City, Iowa) and Hancher Auditorium (Hancher Auditorium / The University of Iowa), which the U of IA is hoping to rebuild on the downtown side of the river. It might be a challenging few years of transition, however.

Another thought is that the Blackstone (BLACKSTONE: Iowa City's east side restaurant and sports bar) has made quite a good name for itself way out on the East side of town. That's a nice, still-developing neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of commercial stuff out there. I can picture a quality wine bar being a nice complement to the sports-bar and restaurant of Blackstone.

If you make a scouting run out this way, and have time to drive a little ways away from town to see some neat operations, check out the Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon (Lincoln Cafe, Mt. Vernon, Iowa - Food is Important! - the one meal I've had here was among the top 5 meals I've eaten ever, anywhere). Also, the Ladora Bank Bistro in Ladora (Ladora Bank Bistro Contemporary Elegance, Historic Splendor) is a great little place with an extensive beer and wine list, and great bistro-style food. A little drive to get to each place, but well worth it, and both trips will take you near some local wineries.

Um...maybe I can get a little carried away talking about food in Iowa City. Apologies if I just posted a thousand things you already knew. Feel free to ask any other questions you would like amateur opinions on!
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