Openings, closings and wanderings: 2019 restaurant news in review

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People-watch and order the spicy beef noodle at Saigon’s Corner on Clinton Street. — Corbin Booth/Little Village

It was a turbulent year for many restaurants in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Two that opened in January — BeerBurger in downtown Iowa City and Linn Street Dive — closed before the end of summer. But BeerBurger still has its North Liberty location, and in December, Linn Street Dive became Marco’s Grilled Cheese.

Melk Diner & Cereal Bar, which opened in December 2018, wasn’t as lucky. When it went dark in June, the sign on the door said, “Melk is closed forever.”

The 77-year-old Boston Fish in Cedar Rapids announced in April it was closing, then announced in May it would remain open, but close temporarily for remodeling. But “temporarily” will last into the next year, and the old restaurant will be replaced by a new one, Bostons, while the family that had run Boston Fish for the last 26 will open a food truck, The Fish.

The temporary closing of Daylight Donuts on Iowa City’s east side really was only temporary. The donut shop closed when it lost its lease in May, but found a new home in November, moving into Sun Cafe’s location. Sun Cafe moved across town to the space that housed Zio Johno’s, when the Italian restaurant moved into a section of what used to be Paul’s Discount.

As the year drew to a close, Village Meat Market and Cafe in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village announced it was closing. But just days later, plans were unveiled for a new meat market in the same location that will open in the spring.

But along with the closings, openings, rebrandings and relocations, two Iowa City fixtures got to celebrate their longevity. the Club Car marked its 15th anniversary and George’s Buffet turned 80.

A timeline of restaurant news

Pho at Saigon’s Corner in Coralville. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Jan. 25: Saigon’s Corner is set to open in the Old Capitol Town Center on Jan. 29

Feb. 19: Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers opens in Old Capitol Town Center

March 29: Fair Grounds Coffeehouse is closing

May 17: Sparti’s Gyros is closing

May 24: Cibo Fusion is closing

Melk Diner & Cereal Bar, June 3, 2019. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

June 3: Melk Diner & Cereal Bar has closed

July 10: The Pig & Porter has closed

July 11: BeerBurger closes its Iowa City location

July 26: Goldfinch Tap + Eatery set to open in Marion

Sept. 13: La Wine Bar & Restaurant is taking over the former BeerBurger space in downtown Iowa City

Oct. 25: Sidekick Coffee & Books encourages guests to unplug and connect

Wurst, Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Nov. 5: Sun Cafe and Zio Johno’s move, and Guild Wurst Tavern makes a major change

Nov. 6: Marco’s Grilled Cheese will open in December in the former Devotay and Linn Street Dive space

Nov. 12: Daylight Donuts is reopening in a new location

Nov. 15: Fixin’ for a coffee at The Chauncey? A new shop, Fix!, has opened on the second floor

Amy Huang, manager of Yummy, Dec. 5, 2019. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

Dec. 6: Yummy brings a menu of Asian and American favorites — including Thai rolled ice cream — to downtown Iowa City

Dec. 11: Boston Fish is gone, but its legacy will swim on in Cedar Rapids

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, 89 2nd St #2, Coralville. Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. — Emma McClatchey/Little Village

Dec. 13: Nile Ethiopian Restaurant has closed

Dec. 16: Village Meat Market and Cafe in Czech Village is closing

Dec. 18: Anvil Meat Market and Deli to open in former Village Meat Market space

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    1. Daylight Donuts spells the name of their product “donut,” a spelling that has been common in the United States since the 19th century. Since the meaning is plain to anyone who reads it, we defer to Daylight on the spelling.

  1. I noticed a few weeks ago that the Coralville Saigon’s Corner first changed menu and ownership (I think) and dropped prices (yeah!). And, the pho and other dishes I tried were quite good. I always questioned the pho starting out at $12+ given what it goes for in most cities, and given that my old fave Mekong used to charge $8 for a large pho.

  2. Don’t forget about Moniker 86 Social Club at 821 3rd Avenue Southeast in Cedar Rapids that opened April 1st!

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