Boston Fish is gone, but its legacy will swim on in Cedar Rapids

Bostons is now in the former Boston Fish location at 804 Fifth St. SE. — Google Maps and Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

In April, people were disappointed to learn Boston Fish, a staple of the Cedar Rapids restaurant scene for 77 years, was closing, after its building was sold and the new owners decided to do something different. A month later, things changed.

Boston Fish manager Lenore Zoll announced the new owners had changed their minds, and wanted to work with Zoll to keep the restaurant where it had been since 1942. Now, things have changed again.

A restaurant called Bostons, not affiliated with the previous owners of the restaurant, will open next year in the former Boston Fish space at 804 Fifth St SE. And Zoll is planning to open a food cart.

Bostons co-owner Kevin Nanke told Little Village the menu will be a “fresher version” of the previous restaurant’s menu, with some old favorites and new items. The restaurant’s interior is being fully remodeled, and there are plans to offer outdoor seating during warm weather. Bostons’ sign references the building’s former occupant: “Evolving since 1942.”

“It’s going to look a lot different,” Nanke said.

“We wanted to give it a new shot, and hopefully people like the fresher concept.”

The restaurant is scheduled to open in the first week of January. Nanke is also opening the Red Clover Deli located right next to Bostons. It’s expected to open in the spring.

Zoll told Little Village she is not affiliated with the new restaurant after she and the new owners decided to part ways over having different visions of what Bostons would be.

Zoll is instead working on her own endeavor — a food truck and catering business called The Fish.

“I told the customers that Boston Fish was coming back,” she said.

Boston Fish was opened by Paul Howell in 1942, and was originally located at 408 3rd Ave SE. Zoll’s aunt and uncle, Suzette and Joseph Zoll, bought the restaurant from Howell in 1993, and she said her family still has the rights to the recipes.

“I decided to keep it going, somehow some way, and I decided on a food truck,” Zoll said. “It’ll be a little bit smaller menu than what we had at Boston Fish.”


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The goal is to open the food cart by the start of Lent, which begins Feb. 26.

Zoll has also been taking catering and holiday orders by email or through The Fish’s Facebook page. The deadline to place a holiday order was extended to Dec. 15.

Zoll said she’s most excited about the “opportunity to bring [Boston Fish] back to the community.”

“It’s not about the location or the name, it’s about the people,” Zoll said. “They are Boston Fish, and I am too, and we’ll make it work no matter where we’re at.”

“Ideally, eventually, I’d like to have another restaurant, so I can sit with the customers, but this is a way for it to get out as fast as it can.”

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