Ever since owners Jade and Mark Paterno announced in November they were closing Devotay, an iconic Iowa City restaurant, and would reopen it as something completely new, a lot people have wondered what that “newness” would involve. Those questions will be answered starting Wednesday at 5 p.m., as Linn Street Dive opens its doors.
“We quickly realized we can’t be all things for all people, but what we can do is provide an absolutely delicious and unique meal, a glass of wine or a cheap beer, and really friendly service,” the Paternos explained in an emailed statement. “We wanted our name to reflect a very tongue-in-cheek tone. If you’ve been in the space, it’s obviously not a dive, but we will serve you a mind-blowing lobster bisque and might recommend you try it with a can of Hamm’s.”
(Hamm’s is one of the “throwback beers” Linn Street Dive will feature, for those looking to add a little variety to their PBR-style nostalgic drinking.)
It’s a major change from Devotay.
Devotay was opened by Chef Kurt Friese and his wife Kim McWane Friese in 1996. The Frieses were leaders of the local slow food movement, and built their restaurant on its principals, using locally sourced, sustainably grown ingredients. Devotay quickly became known for its Mediterranean fare, with an emphasis on Spanish cuisine, such as paella and tapas.
After running the restaurant for more than two decades, the Frieses sold Devotay to the Paternos in December 2017.
“It took a long time to find the right person,” Kurt Friese said in a press release announcing the sale, “because it was vital that Devotay continue as is, with the same great staff, with the dedication to local ingredients and so on.”
But in November, the Paternos explained on Facebook, “In the simplest of terms, Devotay worked with Kurt and Kim at the helm. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the Devotay model work for us.”
While we deeply love Devotay and are sad to see it close, we are also excited and optimistic to create a new restaurant of our very own. Our goal with the new restaurant will once again be to offer exceptional food, but with a more familiar menu.
Instead of looking to the Mediterranean for inspiration, Linn Street Dive is looking to the West Coast. It’s new executive chef, Clinton Dunn, “recently moved back to the Iowa City area after twelve years of living in Los Angeles, where he worked in kitchens at Spago, Maximilliano, and Napa Valley Grille,” the Paternos explained in their statement about the new restaurant. They said Dunn will provide a “West Coast twist” to traditional Midwestern comfort food.
The menu’s small plates, soups, salads, entrees, sides and desserts are priced from around $6-$36, and will have rotating special entrees with recommended drink pairings. Chef Dunn is an avid fisherman who is passionate about sourcing sustainable seafood. He is known for his use of high-quality ingredients, inventive plating techniques, and interacting with his guests as they dine.
In an email to Little Village, Jade Paterno said she expected people would have questions about whether Linn Street Dive would continue Devotay’s practice of prioritizing local agricultural products. Paterno said they want to be supportive of local farmers, but currently aren’t going with a locally focused approach.
“Right now [plans call for] purchasing some local and some not,” she said. “We’ll do as much good as we possibly can, on this front and others.”
In addition to being open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, Linn Street Dive also plans to host events, such as wine dinners, beer tastings and game nights.
Linn Street Dive’s hours will be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.