Sonny’s Northside Tap to expand into former Taste of China location

Sonny’s Northside Tap will expand into the former Taste of China location. — photo by Eleanore Taft

Sonny’s Northside Tap owners Cassie and Tracy Barkalow purchased the space next door, 208 N Linn St, formerly occupied by Taste of China. They plan to expand Sonny’s into that space by August and begin serving casual pub fare.

Taste of China closed May 12 and the Barkalows purchased the space on Wednesday. Tracy Barkalow said he hopes to work with the city council and Downtown District to change an ordinance that bans existing bars from expanding so they can put a door between the two spaces. For now, they will be connected by a patio.

“We’ve already demoed the space and we’re in the plans right now of laying it out so we can submit construction drawings to the city,” he said.

Tracy Barkalow, who grew up in North Liberty, is a regular at Wig and Pen Pizza Pub, and mentioned their menu as inspiration for what Sonny’s might serve (minus the pizza.)

“We just want to be an affordable, good place to come eat American pub-style food,” he said.

The same menu will be offered on both sides of the business, featuring sandwiches for around $10 and bar staple appetizers like wings. The kitchen will be open until about 10 p.m.

The expansion will make the business more family-friendly, he said, with about 20 restaurant-style tables, plus booths and new flooring and similar decor to the current Sonny’s. The two hope to host comedy nights, trivia and live music in that space, and use the kitchen for catering and events like wedding receptions. By next year they hope to add a rooftop beer garden.

The Barkalows purchased Sonny’s, in the former I.C. Ugly’s location, in December of last year. They added fresh paint, new flooring and furniture and made a few minor modifications before quickly reopening as Sonny’s, named after their 5-year-old daughter.

Tracy Barkalow, is the co-owner of Sonny’s Northside Tap along with his wife, Cassie. — photo by Eleanore Taft

They hope to continue to update that space as well, moving toward a focus on local and craft beer with the addition of 18 to 24 taps which will also be on offer in the new space, along with an expanded wine selection. The new space will close at midnight and the current space will continue to stay open until 2 a.m.

“We’re trying to change with the times and make it a better neighborhood bar,” Barkalow said.