Après Wine Bar and Bistro, the first restaurant to arrive in Iowa City’s Peninsula Neighborhood, will open its doors before the end of the month says owner Emmet Carmichael.
The menu at Après will focus on small plates and wine, drawing inspiration from European dining culture; the name comes from the French for the word that literally means ‘after,’ which Carmichael says refers to happy hour.
“If you go over to any of the big resorts with restaurants and bars over in Europe, people will use the term like, ‘Where do you want to do après at?’” Carmichael said. “Since they use it as the word happy hour, why can’t we?”
After working in various restaurants throughout the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area for 14 years, Carmichael says Amy Pretorius, project manager of the Peninsula Neighborhood, and her husband Adam encouraged him to open his own restaurant.
The concept for the menu is “comfort food with a twist” and draws inspiration from many world cuisines, according to Carmichael.
“It’s also all over the place, and you can’t really pinpoint it to a certain location,” he said.
The menu will offer dishes ranging from a ramen bowl to chicken and waffles, and while Iowa City area diners are likely familiar with small plates and upscale comfort food, Carmichael says that guests can expect something new at this restaurant.
“To become a more successful restaurant you have to be ahead of the curve, and more innovative than the last person,” Carmichael said. “You have to be the ones setting the trend, by keeping up with what people are buying and eating, and that’s what were going to try to do.”
Après will eventually offer breakfast, lunch and dinner; weekly specials; and (in addition to their wines) select craft beers.
“It sounds super cliche to say, but I’m looking forward to giving people product that they can talk, brag and smile about, and will want to keep coming back for more,” said Carmichael. “Most successful restaurants are owned by the people who are truly passionate about food, wine, serving others or making people happy and bringing the next innovative idea to the table, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Après.”