John’s Grocery hosting 70th anniversary party

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John’s Grocery 70th Anniversary Party

John’s Grocery, 401 E Market St — Thursday, May 31 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

John’s Grocery, March 9, 2018. — photo by Paul Brennan

John’s Grocery is celebrating 70 years as a staple of Iowa City’s northside by focusing on what they do best: beer.

John’s is hosting an anniversary party in their parking lot from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, offering beer and wine samples from visiting breweries and wineries, as well as chances to win prizes.

This year marks the 170th anniversary of a grocery store existing on the corner of Gilbert and Market Street, though it’s only been called John’s for 70. In a way, John’s is Iowa City’s oldest business, first opened in 1848 by Samuel Baker.

The shop changed hands several times, and was called Valentine’s Grocery when John Alberhasky bought it in 1948, renaming it for himself. The store is now owned by John’s son, William, and managed by William’s son, Doug.

“It’s amazing that Grandma and Grandpa started this, and in the past 70 years my dad and all six of his siblings have worked in the business,” Doug Alberhasky said. “I’ve worked here really for the past 31 years, and just the fact, in this day and age, that a little mom-and-pop business can not only survive but thrive is pretty amazing.”

Along with offering basic grocery items, John’s has developed a reputation as a go-to shop for local, national and imported beers, wines and spirits, with a wide selection and a knowledgeable staff. The business will often secure rare or limited-edition brews, brands and vintages not carried in other stores in the region.

Celebrate 70 years of family and beers with us this Thursday, 11-7. An Iowa City Tradition since 1948.

Posted by Johns Grocery on Monday, May 28, 2018

John’s has earned a rapport with brewers as well as consumers. Millstream Brewing of Amana developed a beer to honor John’s 50th anniversary in 1998 — John’s Belgian White — which remains one of the brewery’s most popular offerings. Peace Tree Brewing of Knoxville, Iowa also named a beer for John’s: the kettle-soured John’s Generations 1948 Sour Wit, released in 2016.

Both Millstream and Peace Tree will be serving beer samples at John’s party Thursday, as well as Coralville’s Backpocket Brewery and ReUnion Brewery; Precept Wine, a Seattle-based wine company; Big Grove Brewery of Solon and Iowa City; and others.

Big Grove will be releasing a variant of their Richard the Whale and Coffee Richard stout beers for the party, aged in a Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrel contributed by John’s. The releases will take place at 11 a.m. and 5:30 pm.; patrons may purchase only one bottle each. ReUnion will be sampling their new Tank Puncher IPA.


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Doug Alberhasky said foods such as cake and John’s “famous” Scotch eggs — a pub staple of hard-boiled eggs breaded with sausage and deep fat fried — will be served during the party. Iowa City jazz band James Mons and His Not So Little Monsters will perform from 5-7:30 p.m., when games, prize giveaways and other activities will pick up.

Prior to the party, the public is welcome to submit any memories they have from John’s over the years to the business’s Facebook page. Each memory shared counts towards one entry in the party’s raffle. The “best” memory will be awarded a special gift card.

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