Iowa has become home to many new and remodeled breweries, distilleries, and coffee shops in the past few years. In my experience, these business founders want to bring more than a place for grabbing a your favorite drink, they want to be a gathering space for good conversations, art shows, and live music. They bring more opportunity to us to integrate more diversity and creativity in our daily lives. Whether they know it or not, these local shops become the personality that identifies a street, neighborhood, or city to the locals and visitors alike.
Our local gathering spaces are a backbone of our communities, and sometimes they are what attract new people to live in our communities, or help young professionals decide to stay in Iowa after graduation. In celebration of these small businesses that make a huge impact, I’d like to introduce to you seven new businesses that bring people together around a cup of coffee or a craft brew that opened their doors this year. Skip the big box brews this Christmas, & take your family to enjoy a cup of cheer in your local gathering space this holiday season.
Sidecar Coffee - (Waterloo, IA)
Sidecar Coffee Roasters moved to a refurbished and historically preserved Wonderbread Factory space in downtown Waterloo from their Cedar Falls warehouse location in the past year. In this new space, you’d be hard pressed to find a better industrial modern vibe to sip your morning or afternoon coffee. The atmosphere is just the tip of the experience you’ll find when you visit, because the baristas are committed to educate customers about coffee, and they take pride in serving a truly beautiful cup of coffee.
Dash Coffee - (Cedar Rapids)
This shop may be the newest edition to the family of passionate coffee businesses in Iowa. The shop opened in Fall 2017 and I know for a fact the owners at this shop are passionate about coffee and community. The meaning behind the name “Dash” is tied to finding your passion and pursuing it. As their website says, “That’s how you fill the “‘dash’ you leave behind. Each person is given a beginning and end date, only being filled in with a simple dash. That dash is meant to be your legacy.” The people behind this new coffee shop are the real deal!
Mississippi River Distillery and Cody Road Cocktail House (LeClaire, IA) -
According to a local, “The distillery has been open for quite a few years now but the Cody Road Cocktail House just opened in July. Until recently, there was a law in place that restricted distilleries from selling their products by the glass. The guys that own this distillery were leading the effort for five years in a row to get a new law in place that allows them to serve their own products by the glass as long as they have the proper license and insurance (more on that here).” The Mississippi River has a claim to fame since the new law passed for distilleries to sell by the glass, because it was the first in the state to sell a cocktail this year!
Atomic Coffee Bar (Davenport, IA)
These folks are movers and shakers from the West Coast. The double lane drive through craft coffee bar is getting rave reviews. This Fall, the team at Atomic announced they will be expanding with a second location in Bettendorf, IA.
The Foundry (Valley Junction, IA)
A whiskey distillery, food truck kitchen, craft coffee bar and work training program for the homeless in the community all in one brilliant renovated train depot location seems too good to be true. Right? But for Des Moines community members this dream venue is realized at The Foundry who opened their doors earlier in 2017.
According to their website “The Foundry at Valley Junction, an 1890’s railcar barn and iron Foundry, is reclaimed as a distillery, food + beverage hall, commissary kitchen, and place to connect!”
Again the mission of the people behind the scenes at this gathering space shines through well in their writing on their website, “The goal of The Foundry has always been to create a space where things are made and people come together. We hope this place becomes a destination for all of Des Moines to enjoy.”
Town Square Coffee House & Kitchen (Orange City, IA)
Previously old Factory Coffee Shop -- has a new location and a new name this year. While the owners are the same people, the renovated downtown space has a unique position to be right in the middle of the action in Orange City. They strive to bring a welcoming space for all, their central location seems to serve as a metaphor for who they are bringing people together from all walks of life. So be sure to stop in and celebrate life with the Town Square Coffee team if you’re in Western Iowa this season.
It’s an exciting time to live in Iowa. There are new coffee shops, breweries and local restaurants opening their doors, and we are so excited to welcome them to the community as they welcome us to their own, and share their craft -- a cup of cheer -- with us in our daily lives. We are thankful for you small shop owners. Here’s to you, the gathering spaces that bring culture, diversity, and creativity to our hometowns and bustling cities.