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Oxford restaurant Augusta will re-open in Iowa City in February


Shrimp brioche stuffed lobster tail and filet mignon with fried onion and bordelaise sauce. -- photo courtesy of Augusta Restaurant
Shrimp brioche stuffed lobster tail and filet mignon with fried onion and bordelaise sauce. — photo courtesy of Augusta Restaurant

Augusta, the popular New Orleans-style restaurant in Oxford will be shutting its doors and relocating to Iowa City next month.

The restaurant’s co-owner, Jeri Halperin, confirmed that the operation will take over the space recently vacated by bicycle-themed restaurant Ride (630 Iowa Ave.) in time for their Mardi Gras celebration on Feb. 9. An opening date has not been confirmed — the plan came about “fairly recently,” she said — but she and co-owner/chef Ben Halperin are tentatively planning for a soft and then hard opening.

Ride shut its doors on Jan. 1. Augusta, which opened in 2008 by owners who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, has received accolades for its burgers and in 2008 the Iowa Pork Producers Association named their pork tenderloin the best in the state.

But the restaurant usually closes in winter, when traffic in Oxford slows. “I feel bad we couldn’t survive out there with the small town. I wanted to support that community, but it wasn’t able to support us, unfortunately.”

The menu will retain its staples made from local and seasonal products. “We’re still going to make our bread, we’re still going to make our mayonnaise, all of our soups, salads and salad dressings,” Halperin said. Augusta will continue to serve its Crazy Mary, its renowned Big Easy Burger and a range of Iowa beers. “We’re not changing how we cook, just higher volume. We’ll be able to have a bit more help being in town.”

There will be some changes, however, including the introduction of lunches and three days of brunches each weekend. “We’re going to go fish heavy,” Halperin said, with “fish and chips, and options of sautéed fish and seafood.” The restaurant will also offer rotating specials.

Halperin said the restaurant seized the chance to move to Iowa City. “We hear it all the time: we want you here in Iowa City,” she said. “We figured we can make it eight years in a town of 750, we should probably be able to make it a lot longer here in Iowa City.”