Banditos, Stella owners collaborate on new restaurant to open in December

Located in the former Lou Henri, Ride will have a completely different look due to extensive renovations to the building. — photo by Adam Burke

The Iowa City dining scene continues to grow, and joining the lineup of new and soon-to-open eateries is Ride, a bike-themed restaurant on the corner of Iowa Avenue and Dodge Street.

Brothers Derek (owner of Banditos and co-owner of Short’s East Side) and Kevin Perez (co-owner of Short’s, Short’s East Side and Stella), along with Tom “Roc” Kemmerer (co-owner of Short’s East Side), are behind the restaurant that is set to open in December.

Ride is taking over the former space of Sunny’s and Lou Henri, though it will look quite different. The owners have completely renovated the inside of the building, including painting the interior and exterior; replacing all the flooring; new ceilings and remodeled bathrooms. The decor will play on the restaurant’s name by incorporating restored classic bicycles and other bike-themed memorabilia.

The exterior of the building has also seen some changes with a fresh coat of brick-red paint and a fence made of wood and corrugated metal around the outdoor patio space. In the warmer months, the patio will sell à la carte items like coffee, pastries and breakfast foods that will be easy to pick-up on the go.

While the details of the restaurant’s menu are still being decided, Kevin says that it will have a “diner feel,” and Derek describes cuisine as a “regional take on comfort food,” and they plan to use organic, local ingredients when possible.

“We’re not really foodies, but we like to eat. We like good food and we like good products,” said Kevin. “If food is fresh, it doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive.”

Ride already plans to source its pork from a farm in Waterloo and eggs from Kalona. Van Houzen Brewing Company in Newton will brew a beer specifically for Ride to pour at their full bar.

“We want to use Iowa products to the greatest extent that we can,” says Derek. “It’s a collaborative effort.”


  1. Hey, just curious if anyone is really buying into monopolizing off of biking as a trend? Biking is an awesome form of transportation, but it also seems as if these folks really know their demographic in Iowa City and are leaning toward a business model that is inclined to a culture that they don’t necessarily participate in…

    Everyone should try biking and everyone should ride bikes instead of driving. However, people shouldn’t feel obligated to recreate their identity around something that is actually central to other people’s values; in short: no one has obligated anyone to love biking. This is not Amsterdam, and the cycling industry inflating for the sake of vanity is a precarious economic endeavor indeed. If I go to this restaurant, it will not make me any more a cyclist. And honestly, considering that I do not truly enjoy Short’s or Stella (Bandito’s on the other hand…), I don’t suppose going there would do me any good as a foodie, either.

    I think a retro diner could have fit in well to this establishment without pushing the over-commitment to a transportation/fitness group. And I expect a big bike rack, to say the least.

    1. So many ways to respond, first Tom “roc” Kemmerer rides his bike everyday. Does quite a bit of engaging with the biking community. His preferred bike shop is world of bikes, there you can check to see how much of a poseur he is, as you insinuated. Derek lives out in the country rides his bike quite a bit, and his preferred bike shop is Geoffs. I am just fat fuck who doe not ride a bike, but I came up with the name. I liked all the connotations that come up with the name. From sex, to long road trips, and Bobby Weir busting out a “going to Hell in a Bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride, ….ride….. Ride….
      I am sorry you do not like my restaurants. I feel we make an honest product, everything as local as possible, use fresh ingredients, provide many good jobs. The husband and wife team that make the bread are great hard working people. Meat is locally sourced and ground fresh six days a week. At Shorts we have 30 iowa beers on tap, ask a few of the brewers if we have helped with their success. Also did you notice anyone follow our lead to Iowa Beer? When Derek, Lisa, and I opened 126 in 2000, downtown iowa city was a wreck, Coral Ridge Mall was killing us. We were at the beginning of side walk dining, open air dining, local products, high end casual, I believe we helped changed the course of restaurants and restaurant scene in Iowa City. Shorts we use 90 percent all Iowa Stuff, and definitely are leaders not followers.
      The comment about foodies is we think good honest, non pre made, frozen food should be the norm not the exception. The idea that food to be fresh and good somehow means expensive is just how I think the trend is going, and we would like to go the other way, make good food accessible and the norm.
      Myself and two brothers grew up outside of Des Moines, we lived in a small house in the country, parents were divorced and we were brought up mainly with our mom. We had a large garden and canned food and wasted nothing. I didn’t know we were poor, we always had food on the table, mom worked full time, and food time was family time. No TV, no microwave, no frozen food, everything from scratch like it’s supposed to be. So really your opinion ( which was really well written) based on an article where you insult us and don’t sign your name is like all other opinions where they don’t sign their name, gutless and uninformed.
      Kevin Perez

  2. I think the Lou Henri menu had kind of a lineage back to JC’s Cafe, which was a cycling hangout. If the Perezes and Kemmerer really want to pick up the thread — and the clientele — they could pick up some JC’s and Lou Henri menus for inspiration. I’ll be especially sad if the tempeh reuben isn’t on it.

  3. Hi, This is Derek Perez. Just for the record when he said Ride I thought we were going NASCAR. Oh well, next restaurant

  4. Hello, Roc Kemmerer here. Concerning the “big bike rack” Kevin spent hours building one(several others are in the works) and it was stolen in the night time hours. The culprit has remained nameless. I wonder, is there a connection?

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