The best food stories of 2021


Despite ongoing challenges, many restaurants did not hesitate to start new businesses.

After 2020 dealt an unprecedented blow to restaurants around the world, starting with state-ordered closures for the novel coronavirus pandemic, 2021 has not been without its challenges.

But despite the new and complex challenges of 2021 – labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and rising business costs, to name a few – a significant number of new restaurants have opened. in the corridor.

Here are some of the food stories that Gazette readers enjoyed the most this year.

MrBeast Burger began operating from Red Robin at Cedar Rapids in 2021. (The Gazette / Elijah Decious)

1. MrBeast Burger brings ghost cooking to Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids has been added to the growing list of US cities to get the MrBeast Burger service – a ghost kitchen started by viral YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson.

The brand, operating out of Red Robin in Cedar Rapids, uses existing kitchens to fulfill orders for burgers, fries and grilled cheese sandwiches through delivery service apps only.

Scoop Coop began serving ice cream at LP Street Food’s Patio in Cedar Rapids in 2021.

2. Scoop Coop ice cream and The Hip-stir open

You’ve all been screaming for ice cream, at least figuratively speaking, as you drove to Scoop Coop on LP Street Food’s patio in the summer. Later that year, many of you were intrigued by Hip-stir’s eclectic menu and fascinating interior design as it finally opened its dining room in September.

Both locations are part of the Fun Not Fancy group of restaurants that grew rapidly in 2021, including the recent Cliff’s Dive Bar in the former Grin ‘N Goose space in downtown Cedar Rapids. In 2022, the group intends to continue its momentum with Taco Gato.

Barrel House opened in Marion on December 6 (Barrel House)

3. Barrel House announces new location for Marion

Barrel House, a small Iowa-based chain with branches in Davenport and Dubuque, announced it will be opening a store on Tower Terrace Road in Marion in April. The location, which originally planned to open in the summer, only opened on December 7.

The delayed opening of Barrel House was just one example of the delays that have become part of the new standard for most restaurants this year as restaurants face delays for everything from chicken wings to amenities. kitchen and building supplies out of stock for months.

Barrel House’s downtown location in Cedar Rapids, which was announced in June, remains on track. Chris Posey, director of franchise marketing and sales, said the location is under construction and is slated to open early next year at 102 Second St., where La Cantina Bar & Grill was once located.

The nautical-themed indoor miniature golf course at Tavern Blue, 805 Second St., in Coralville, Iowa on Friday, August 6, 2021 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)

4. Tavern Blue brings mini golf and Neapolitan pizza to Coralville

As fall began to set in, Tavern Blue opened at 805 Second St. in Coralville to offer diners a cozy getaway with mini-golf, brick oven-style pizza and more.

A double with bacon and a fried egg and a side of onion rings at BurgerFiend, 2020 16th Ave SW, southwest of Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, May 7, 2021 (Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette)

5. BurgerFiend expands, then contracts

In March, BurgerFiend opened a second location in the building where it originally started at 2020 16th Ave. SW at Cedar Rapids. It was originally located there from 2014 to 2017 before moving to Center Point Road NE, where the former Spring House restaurant was located.

But the Beef brand’s time as a two-line business was short-lived.

Three months after opening on the southwest side, BurgerFiend closed its Center Point Road NE location. Their marketing manager said the restaurant expected a recovery in business at the Center Point Road location that did not materialize as strongly as expected.

Cheryl Maloney flips a platter of warm pecan buns onto a platter at The Eat Shop in Solon on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. The bakery started out as a restaurant run by owner’s great-aunt Mary Ann Drahos and her five sisters. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)

6. The Eat Shop bakery in Solon is rediscovering family recipes to the public

Seventy-one years after her great-aunt Mary Ann Drahos closed The Eat Shop in Cedar Rapids, Cheryl Maloney introduced the public to her recipes for pecan buns, kolaches, cookies, pies and more with a bakery. of the same name to Solon.

The Chicago native’s business, which started at home, “caught on like wildfire,” prompting her to open the storefront in August.

The locals have certainly shown that they have a sweet tooth – the bakery consumes 300 pounds of flour and 90 pounds of Irish butter every week.

Owner Mo Nasr poses for a photo outside the Keto Kitchen in Iowa City on Monday, April 5, 2021 (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)

7. Keto Cuisine Brings a New Kind of Dining Option to Iowa City

After a ketogenic diet changed her life, Mo Nasr wanted to make its benefits available to everyone.

After it became impossible to cook ketogenic meals at home for employees at his other business, he opened The Keto Kitchen at 116 E. Washington St., which held its grand opening in March.

“It’s not a very easy diet to perfect, and the food is very difficult to prepare and stabilize because it doesn’t use flour,” Nasr told The Gazette in April. “We just want to teach people about keto knowledge and show them it’s doable, it’s sustainable.”

Willie Ray Fairley, owner of Willie Ray’s Q Shack, checks ribs after running out of food at the end of a lunch rush at Willie Ray’s Q Shack in Cedar Rapids on Friday, May 21, 2021. Fairley was named by Fortune as one of the world’s top 50 leaders for his generosity in feeding people during the derecho here and in Texas following the February ice storms. (Andy Abeyta / The Gazette)

8. Willie Ray Fairley is just getting started

In May, Willie Ray Fairley told The Gazette his previous acts of generosity were just the beginning after being named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest Global Leaders for 2021.

The owner of Willie Ray’s Q Shack on Blairs Ferry Road. NE at Cedar Rapids has put his money where its mouth is since becoming known to feed hungry locals in the wake of the 2020 derecho.

In February, he traveled to Texas to help ice storm victims, where he spent a substantial portion of a $ 25,000 grant he received last year from the Eat It Forward program. Of Discover Card to feed strangers. In September, he traveled to Louisiana to feed the victims of Hurricane Ida.

In December, he didn’t even hesitate to pack his bags to help those ravaged by tornadoes in Kentucky.

“It’s more of an automatic thing that I want to do. When people don’t have places to turn, someone has to step in and offer these guys something, ”he said. “If you lose your whole house, the least anyone can do is feed you. I’m not a carpenter, so I can’t build a house, but I can feed you while someone else is doing it.

9. Ramen Belly opens in the Iowa City Peninsula neighborhood

More than 18 years after opening Japanese fusion restaurant Takanami, John Lieu and Andy Diep started a new business with Ramen Belly, opening at 1010 Martin St. in Iowa City in April.

The concept of fast-casual dining offers a specialist interpretation of ramen alongside poke, bowls of rice, and other Asian offerings.

Lord Stephen Range, co-owner of Birria Tacos, cooks a Birria Egg Pie in his kitchen at a cloud kitchen on First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, September 23, 2021. The fast and casual Lord Stephen Range restaurant is the first in the 19-unit CloudKitchens intended to open doors for start-up bosses. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)

10. Startup Birria Tacos opens in Cedar Rapids’ cloud kitchen

Lord Stephen Range opened his cloud kitchen in Cedar Rapids to offer birria tacos via delivery-only service from a new facility near the Lindale Mall at 4444 First Ave. NE, Suite 3001.

After two months of cooking at home, the increase in sales was a sign that the food was popular enough that he could work in another kitchen. It started offering tacos to the Rapids Foods Cloud Kitchen in September.

Range previously worked with Ali Mason, the man known as “Taco God” who helped popularize birria tacos at Cedar Rapids, before parting ways with disagreements in December 2020. In May, Mason opened The Hype Bar & Grill with Rich Burdine at the old Southside Steakhouse on Sixth Ave. SW.

Mason told The Gazette that he separated from Burdine in December and that he no longer worked for The Hype.

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