Clinton Street Social Club, Iowa City’s Prohibition-era gastropub, speakeasy and dedicated live jazz venue, is set to change hands after first opening its doors in September 2012. Current owner Brian Vogelgesang will finalize the sale of the restaurant later this week to Sam Hall, Ravi, Raj and Sajni Patel, owners of the soon-to-open Marquee Pizzeria & Bar in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing and partners in numerous hospitality projects through the Patels’ firm Hawkeye Hotels.
“The character of this establishment stands out from other dining and libation experiences in Iowa City,” co-owner Ravi Patel said in a press release. “As investors, we see this as an opportunity both to support the city and continue to build upon the strong foundation that Brian laid.”
After the purchase is made final later this week, restaurant patrons should expect a similar speakeasy approach to the menu, live music events and ambience. Seasonal, local and made-from-scratch cooking and mixology, a hallmark of Clinton Street Social Club from its initial inception, will remain a key focus. Current management and staff will also remain through the transition of ownership.
“We have come to love Clinton Street the way Brian built it,” co-owner Sam Hall said in the press release. “When you dine there, you feel the speakeasy vibes in the details, down to each piece of historic decor and vintage furniture from local suppliers. We plan to maintain those aesthetic aspects and stay true to the locally sourced ‘fancy pub’ cuisine.”
In an emailed statement, Vogelgesang said that he did not seek out the buyers and initially declined to sell the restaurant. However he began to reconsider after conversations with the group about their project in Coralville and after learning that Hawkeye Hotels had purchased, and is in the process of restoring, the Hotel Fort Des Moines — where Vogelgesang worked in college as a bartender and interim chef.
“We continued to meet for coffee, and as I began to get to know the buyers through these conversations it became more and more evident to me that they really do love and respect the Social Club, that their goals are to protect its growing legacy, not change its trajectory, and that as a new, growing, multi-location restaurant group they will be able to offer lateral and upward mobility to my staff that I cannot,” Vogelgesang said. “In short I began to concede to the fact that what they were offering was better for the future of the business and for my staff.”