Dining, Amy Burgmaier, Nonprofit Events
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April 6, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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This HoQ appetizer includes bison and cheese, which you can enjoy inside, to-go or on the patio.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Whether you’re ready to dine in, prefer the patio or are sticking to to-go for now, there’s no wrong way to support local restaurants. In the past month, I’ve visited two local restaurants that were exemplary.

HoQ Restaurant
With local sourcing and ample spacing inside and out, this East Village bistro, headed by chef Suman Hoque, was a dreamy location for my first al fresco dinner of 2021. Not only was each outdoor table paired with its own heater (thanks to the Partnership’s “Extend the Season” grant program), but they were also spaced about 10 feet apart and tucked inside the building’s insets to sit away from the sidewalk a bit.

Fresh air was ample, service was friendly and the heaters kept the temperature cozy even as the sun set. The cozy bison and cheese appetizer and the nostalgic and just-sweet-enough apple galette dessert were standouts during our visit, although the menu changes frequently enough that you’ll likely be surprised with a few new items each time. (The dining room is also open and
online ordering is seamless if you prefer one of those routes.)

HoQ Restaurant (303 E. Fifth St.) is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Learn more, order online or book a reservation at

Table 128 Bistro + Bar
In addition to weekly takeout meal kits, co-owners chef Lynn Pritchard and his wife and Table 128 sommelier, Sarah, team up to offer a three-course menu complete with drink pairings each Friday and Saturday evening.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted “olive caramel” on the menu as part of a Niçoise salad and immediately hopped over to their website to book a table. From that mind-blowing sweet-salty condiment to the expertly seared sea bass entree to the silky caramel budino dessert, my friend and I swiped every plate clean.

Service and drinks were impeccable as always, and indoor tables on that chilly day (and all pandemic long) were amply spaced and separated by clear dividers. Sarah clued us in that “our patio is always open if someone wants to brave the weather to sit out there. In April, we'll have our flowers out and heaters back to keep things even more comfortable on cooler days.”

Table 128 Bistro + Bar (12695 University Ave., Suite 140, Clive) is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays. Learn more, order online or book a reservation at
    Grays are still a powerful trend. Here's one idea for incorporating them into your room:
    Amy Burgmaier, who grew up in Creston and toured with Broadway productions, will perform in Des Moines Community Playhouse's "Some Enchanted Evening." Photo:


    Writer: John Busbee

    Amy Burgmaier will mark her return debut with Des Moines Community Playhouse when she performs in “Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein,” opening this Friday.

    The Iowa native says she’s “thrilled to return to the Playhouse stage where my career began.”

    The road home started in New York City, where Burgmaier spent a decade pursuing her musical theater dream. With a versatile skill set and the drive to “audition for anything and everything I could,” she plunged into making that dream a reality, performing in smaller productions and regional shows until landing a role in the Broadway touring production of “Catch Me If You Can.”

    Just as she was breaking through, though, her voice started giving out by the end of each performance. Although she was able to recover in time for the next show, she had surgery in 2019 to correct the problem. Afterward, Burgmaier regained her momentum, with multiple national tours scheduled for 2020. Then COVID-19 forced Broadway to go dark.

    “I struggled when I almost lost my voice,” Burgmaier recalls. “It was psychologically challenging. I got through that, and then the COVID thing hit, which really sent me into a tailspin. … It felt as if everyone in my profession was considered nonessential.”

    Even alternative income sources dried up. Her work as a singing waitress vanished when the restaurant industry shut down, and parents didn’t need nanny help since they had to stay at home. Burgmaier’s career detoured back home to outside of Creston. “I’m now living in the middle of a cornfield,” she says with a smile.

    Burgmaier discovered resources at Southwestern Iowa Community College, where she studies jazz and works remotely with her New York dance mentor in the college’s dance studio. She’s building a sound studio in her parents’ basement to expand her career to include voiceover work.

    This week, though, she’s focusing on her upcoming role at the Playhouse, where she can pursue her passion for musical theater. “My whole identity depends on me being a performer,” she says.

    “Some Enchanted Evening” features five singers performing more than 30 favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein numbers, including “My Favorite Things” and “Shall We Dance.” In addition to in-person shows, which run through May 9, there will be a livestreamed performance this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Video on demand will be available April 23-25 and May 7-9. Tickets for in-person performances are $29; livestream and on-demand tickets are $25 per device for one viewing. For more info, go to
    People can form teams and bowl to help raise money as a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa's Bowl for Kids' Sake event. Photo: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.


    A number of nonprofit organizations are holding events—both virtually and in person—in April. Here are a few to mark on your calendar.

    Chrysalis Foundation: Chrysalis is partnering with Girls on the Run Central Iowa to present Lunafest 2021, a national virtual festival featuring short films by women. There are seven films (with about 90-minute run times) that you can view April 16-18, and there will be a follow-up discussion at 7 p.m. April 19. Proceeds benefit Girls on the Run, a program of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

    YWRC Gala: The Young Women Resource Center's annual gala will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. April 17. The theme is a masquerade, featuring masks made by a number of local artists. Dr. Barbara Dams and Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu will be honored. Ticket packages have add-on options, including a three-course meal from Bubba, a limited print from Red Door Press and more.

    Bowl for Kids' Sake: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa's signature event allows people to form teams, bowl and raise money for the organization. There will be a number of times and locations throughout April to ensure social distancing. Check online for more information.
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      This work will guide the Des Moines Art Center's meditation event for national Slow Art Day on Saturday. William T. Richards, "Woods in Washington State" (1885), watercolor and pencil on paper; Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections. Photo: Rich Sanders


      How long do you look at a piece of artwork? If you're like the average person, it's probably around 27 seconds, according to a 2017 study in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. The Des Moines Art Center is encouraging everyone to take a few more minutes during Slow Art Day, a global event to help people discover art, on Saturday.

      For the virtual event, participants will go through an introduction, then a slow breathing exercise guided by museum educator Mia Buch. The group will then look at the artwork and discuss the piece and artist. The Art Center says this "session will take you out of the rush of your every day to make space to experience artwork thoughtfully and with intention."

      Each session will be 30 minutes, with times at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.. Admission is free, but there are only 100 spots on the Zoom call, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
        Renee Hardman is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.


        Renee Hardman has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa since 1983 and was named CEO in 2018. Before joining the organization, she owned Hardman Consulting, a human resources management firm, and worked at Bankers Trust for 17 years, where she was senior vice president of human resources and later senior vice president of community relations. In 2017, she became the first Black woman elected to the West Des Moines City Council.

        Over the years, the 59-year-old Hardman has served on the boards of some 20 nonprofits, including the Chrysalis Foundation, Dress for Success, the Latina Leadership Initiative, Character Counts in Iowa, and United Way of Central Iowa. She also is a trustee of Des Moines University and has served on the diversity committees at Drake University and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

        Hardman, who earned both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Drake University, has been recognized with numerous awards and honors from Drake, the Business Record, the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, the NAACP and the YWCA, among other organizations and institutions.

        In an interview, Hardman reflects on the importance of promoting understanding, staying true to yourself, and embracing the wisdom of your ancestors.

        Read the story from our March/April issue here.


          We are continuing our Lifting the Veil virtual series with spring discussions, starting Thursday next week, April 15, with "Moms on the Edge." Experts from the mental health field will discuss how women have been affected by the pandemic, leading to stress, anxiety and burnout as the lines blurred between work and life. The virtual event is free to attend.

          Panelists include:

          • Sharaine Conner, a mental health and addictions therapist in private practice at Thriving Families Counseling Services in Greater Des Moines.
          • Dr. Amy Shriver, a general pediatrician at Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic and assistant professor of specialty medicine at Des Moines University.
          • Christina Smith, president and CEO of Community Support Advocates.

          Register here.
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