Owners remember Old Capitol Brew Works as it closes its doors this weekend

Old Capitol Brew works will reopen as a new bar and restaurant. -- photo by Adam Burke
Old Capitol Brew Works will reopen as a new bar and restaurant. — photo by Adam Burke

Though Paul Krutzfeldt said it does not make sense for him to run a bar an hour away from his brewery, he admitted that it was a bittersweet decision to close Old Capitol Brew Works.

“We have a lot of friends there, a lot of loyal customers,” said Krutzfeldt, who co-owns both Old Capitol and Great River Brewery in Davenport. “We had some great times there and have great memories.”

The bar, affectionately called “Old Cap” and “OCBW” by regulars, will close after Saturday night. Krutzfeldt said a group of new operators will soon open another bar and restaurant at the same location.

Old Capitol Brew Works opened in 2004 as part of a brewpub with a brewing and dining space that included the neighboring building that now houses Orchard Green. Krutzfeldt, who said it has been his lifelong dream to be a brewer, said the brewing group eventually decided it did not want to be restaurant owners, too. The location was also not ideal for growing a brewery, so the group sold both buildings and relocated in December 2008. Rebranded as Great River Brewing Company, it began operations at its new location in Davenport in March 2009.

Despite the brewery’s relocation and sale of the buildings in Iowa City, the Great River team continued to own Old Capitol. Every year, though, Krutzfeldt said he would sit down with an accountant and come to the same conclusion: letting go of the bar would be a good idea if he wanted to grow the brewery.

The bar will now shift to a new group of owners. Krutzfeldt said he first wanted to give the bar to a couple of Old Capitol employees, but they were uneasy about owning it. Though the new owners have yet to announce their plans, Krutzfeldt said he has heard they plan to add a restaurant and the location will have a “brew and barbecue feel.” He added that many of Old Capitol’s employees, some of which have been with the bar since the beginning, will also work for the new owners.

Krutzfeldt said the building has been a bar for “as long as anyone can remember.” Before it was Old Capitol, the building was home to Fitzpatrick’s. The bar has a nice, casual feel that people love, he said. Not only is an excellent location for a bar, Krutzfeldt said it has the best patio in the city.