|From the Corridor Business Journal – A new speakeasy-themed bar and casual restaurant will hold its soft opening just in time for St. Patrick’s Day – and co-owner Brandon Aiels is expecting the establishment’s made-from-scratch food, 1920s-inspired cocktails and old-fashioned service to fill a badly needed niche in the Cedar Rapids market.
“Cedar Rapids doesn’t even know what’s coming,” said Mr. Aiels, who will operate Moniker 86 Social Club alongside his mother Jennifer at 821 Third Ave. SE in the heart of the Cedar Rapids MedQuarter.
Located in a mansion originally built by the Carpenter family in 1870, the new eatery housed Beatty Funeral Home in the early 1920s and was renovated for restaurant use in the late ’80s, most famously as Daniel Arthur’s and what the Aiels call “the appropriately named” Six Feet Under Bar.
“We’ve redone the whole thing – paint, lighting, everything,” Mr. Aiels said. “It looks pretty freaking amazing, I’m not going to lie.”
The restaurant’s opening menu, posted on Facebook, offers a variety of dips from crab rangoon and hummus to margherita and bacon, leek and jalapeno, as well as small bites like stuffed mushrooms, turkey and pesto mini clubs and Thai chicken lettuce cups. Monicker 86 also features a full menu of Prohibition-era inspired drinks like mango and lime gin rickey and the “Cocoa Fashion,” made with rye infused with cocoa, alcoholic cherries, vanilla demerara syrup and mole bitters.
“My mother and I always wanted to open a restaurant,” said Mr. Aiels, who has years of experience in the bar and restaurant industry. “I know she’s my mom, but this is going to be the best food in Cedar Rapids with her brain and my palate. It’s going to change Cedar Rapids.”
The restaurant’s name was inspired by legendary Prohibition-era tavern, Chumley’s in New York City, where the term “86ed” was allegedly coined. Its owners, in cahoots with local police officers who would warn in advance of raids, are said to have quickly hustled patrons out of the 86 Bedford St. entrance.
During a soft opening to kick off March 17, Moniker 86 will offer a limited food and drinks menu. An official opening is planned for April 1. Once fully operational, the restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with lunchtime delivery within the MedQuarter.
“This is going to be a place where we want people to have a good time, every time,” Mr. Aiels said.