Heated Patios, Downtown Hotel, Iowa Creative Incubator
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November 10, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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As colder weather arrives and we begin dreaming of a different kind of spring and summer in 2021, now is the time to plan outdoor spaces. For inspiration, check out how this Johnston home added both serenity and playfulness in their outdoor living space.
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Django's bouillabaisse is perfect for warming up in the chilly temperatures (rich seafood stew featuring snow crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, white fish, veggies and saffron-scented seafood broth).


Writer: Karla Walsh

After last week’s unseasonably warm weather, temperatures are sliding back to more-typical November levels this week. But thanks to the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s new grant program, “Extend the Season,” there are dozens more patios from Ankeny to Indianola to the East Village that now feature heaters to allow for patio dining even later into the year.

Research has proved that there’s about 19 times greater risk for coronavirus transmission indoors compared with outdoors, and spacing tables 6 or more feet apart drastically cuts into peak capacity. So the Partnership hustled to obtain hundreds of patio heaters—which they offered for free to local eateries chosen through an application process—so restaurants could keep their al fresco seating available and comfortable even as the mercury drops.

“We installed a plastic vinyl wrap to block wind, and now with the heaters it makes a huge difference in comfort level,” says Chase Eslinger, managing partner at El Guapo’s Tequila + Tacos in West Des Moines. (You can take a virtual tour of the space on Facebook here.) “Every bar and restaurant in the country will be trying to utilize their patio for as long as possible due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, and thanks to the Partnership we’ll be able to do so. Maybe we can all enjoy a few margaritas on our patio for months to come.”

Unsure of where to start? Here are a few heated patio-inclusive restaurants that offer cozy cuisine we love, too.

Dine here: Aposto (544 18th St.)
Order: Osso buco. The specialty of chef Shawn Bennigsdorf, this hearty entree includes braised Berkwood pork, porcini ragu and creamy polenta.

Dine here: Django (1420 Locust St.)
Order: Bouillabaisse. Grab a spoon and a hunk of warm bread and dive into a big bowl of rich seafood stew featuring snow crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, white fish, veggies and saffron-scented seafood broth.

Dine here: HoQ Restaurant (303 E. Fifth St.)
Order: Grass-fed steak. With a side of homemade potato tots and sauteed vegetables, this main dish is a lovely, locally sourced upgrade on classic comfort food.

There are also several restaurants that had already invested in their own heaters or fire pits, including Bartender’s Handshake, Bubba, Juniper Moon and Proof. Find a full list of heated-patio restaurants here.

    The innovative COMFORTAIR chair is now on sale. Plus - sit in it for one minute for a chance to win a home entertainment package.
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    The lobby of the new Surety Hotel has an open coffee bar serving local brews by day and wine and cocktails by night. Photo: Jason Thomas Crocker.


    Writer: Beth Eslinger

    Located at 206 Sixth Ave., kitty-corner from the Polk County Courthouse, the new Surety Hotel is soon to become one of the new downtown hot spots. We recently toured the new boutique space—opening Nov. 11—and discovered these reasons to stop by for a drink, dinner or maybe even a workday.

    Cozy eats. Wrapped in rich walnut, the Mulberry Street Tavern is sure to become a downtown destination for upscale pub fare, signature cocktails, local brews or a whiskey flight. Executive chef Marque Collins’ menu includes elevated classics such as burgers and mac and cheese, as well as bites of local tomahawk rib-eye and curried mussels. We’re particularly smitten by the burnt orange upholstered barstools.

    Clubby hangout. The main-level lounge is designed to be “Des Moines’ living room,” says designer Staci Patton of Minneapolis-based DLR Group. Luxe leather sofas invite hanging out with safe social distancing, and an open coffee bar serves Des Moines’ BLK & Bold blends by day and wine and cocktails by night.

    Remote work spot. Open tables near the hotel check-in are a welcome break from the home or official office. There’s space to sprawl or meet within safe social distance.

    Shopping central. Modern shelves designed by Liz Lidgett form the check-in backdrop and display goods by local artists and makers including Alfar Pottery from Ames (the coffee shop also stocks the stoneware), Fontanelle, Indie House, Preservation, Monarch Pottery and Blonde Genius. Artworks from Olson-Larsen, Moberg and Liz Lidgett galleries provide color and interest throughout the public spaces.

    Sunny escape. Facing the outdoor patio off Mulberry Street, an interior atrium is planned for yoga and art classes. Just outside, the south-facing patio is another bright option—the fireplace might even be burning on winter days.
    Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe Studios, is one of the minds behind the new Iowa Creative Incubator program hoping to connect artists with local businesses.


    Writer: Luke Manderfeld

    Earlier this year, Siobhan Spain and Beau Kenyon, two local art leaders, met at downtown's Lua Brewing. They discussed a question: How can we connect businesses and artists to promote art within Greater Des Moines? This month, they announced their answer after months of work: the Iowa Creative Incubator.

    The program is a four-month fellowship starting in March 2021 that will involve five local artists—Cameron Gray, Chrissy Jenson, DeAn Michael Kelly, Amenda Tate and Jill Wells—who will partner with local businesses and complete a project. With support from the Iowa Arts Council, the artists will work out of Mainframe Studios and receive up to 30 hours of customized professional development with Kenyon, a Des Moines-based arts consultant and composer. They will also gain access to a team of advisers and assistance in developing partnerships with Des Moines businesses and organizations. The end goal is to create art for commercial or public use.

    "Being an advocate for the arts my whole life, it's exciting to see this program expand possibilities and connections within the community," says Spain, who initially pitched the idea to Kenyon. "I want to see that excitement and artists having more confidence that they can make a career in Des Moines."

    Many organizations are looking for ways to bolster Greater Des Moines' art scene, but don't know how to get involved, Spain adds. Through the Iowa Creative Incubator, companies can sponsor a project, but artists will have full autonomy. Funding and resources are coming from a variety of grant sources, including the Iowa Arts Council and Mainframe Studios.

    "I love this opportunity to make a richer, vibrant culture between artists and businesses," Kenyon says. "That cross-collaboration is so valuable."

    Find more information about the artists and program here.
    Kuuku Saah, Cesar Bracho Saavedra and Daniel Bosman are taking over various Mars Cafe locations around Des Moines. Photo: Mars Cafe.


    Mars Cafe, a Des Moines coffee shop that started near Drake University in 2006, is ending 2020 with a new lease on life: Kuuku Saah and Cesar Bracho Saavedra are taking over the Drake-area and Capital Square locations. Longtime Mars’ manager Daniel Bosman is taking over the East Village location next to Raygun and rebranding it as his own coffee shop, Daisy Chain Coffee.

    The current owners, Martian Investors (a group of four that includes Amedeo Rossi), are happy to see something positive coming out of such a difficult year. “We took over Mars from Larry James,” Rossi said in a release, “kind of carrying the torch while expanding from one to three locations. We can now pass the torch to Kuuku and Cesar to grow the Mars brand, and to give Daniel an opportunity to start a new brand.”

    Kuuku and Cesar are looking forward to continuing the Mars legacy of providing the "best coffee in the galaxy" to the Des Moines community, they said in a release. Daisy Chain’s space will still overlap with Raygun.

    “This has been a tough year, to say the least. Raygun, like all shops in Des Moines, relies heavily on the neighborhood around it,"  Mike Draper, Raygun's owner, said in the release. "It is really hard to replace businesses once they are lost, so every business saved is a big win for the city. I’m glad that Kuuku and Cesar, and Daniel stepped up and am excited to see what happens in the future."

    A new coffee shop has also opened in Des Moines' Highland Park, in what used to be a hardware store. The new business is called Slow Down Coffee Co., and it opened last Tuesday. Read more about it in a recent Business Record story.
    With rich wood tones, warm brass fixtures, and sparkly arabesque-shaped tiles, the kitchen exudes European elegance. The "X" motif in the upper glass cabinetry repeats throughout the home. Photo: Adam Albright Photography.


    Writer: Beth Eslinger

    It may seem unconventional that ’70s tunes, LaCroix sparkling water, dog photos and a wedding monogram were some of the design inspiration for this new home in rural Warren County. But that’s the point of Eden and Gray’s approach.

    At the start of each project, the West Des Moines-based team quizzes its clients with personal questions, such as what’s your favorite drink, your go-to song, your preference in art, says designer Hanna Shiplett, who runs the business with her husband, Jonathan. They use the answers to create a word cloud for the project’s overall feel. “We ask silly questions to understand our clients,” she says.

    And it made an impact with the homeowners, both area medical professionals. The couple, who requested anonymity for this article, say they appreciated the Shipletts’ personal and unique approach.

    The homeowners found the 5-acre lot, complete with a run-down house, junked cars and other rubbish, and saw potential for their dream family home. They were especially drawn to its seclusion and privacy.

    Once the lot was cleaned up, the homeowners turned over the design and build to Eden and Gray. “This was the first time a client unleashed me to do everything,” says Hanna, who also decorated the interior.

    The design duo walked the site and oriented the home to take full advantage of the wooded views. “We took inspiration from what was happening in the land,” she says.

    The open and relaxed home is a combination of French modern and farmhouse—with the dining table outside on the porch in the tradition of European country homes. “The patio is technically their dining room,” Hanna says.

    Read the rest of the story from the November issue.
    There are 12 chances to enjoy the East Village's Holiday Promenade this year, extending over six weeks.


    Get ready for more holiday cheer! The East Village Holiday Promenade will extend for 12 days over six weeks—every Sunday and Wednesday—to facilitate social distancing while keeping the spirit of the event.

    Wednesdays will include special deals and extended hours from East Village businesses, as well as iconic holiday lights throughout the district. Sundays will include special event activities as well as reserved parking for those picking up online orders. All programming will be conducted in a socially distanced manner and all businesses will be monitoring storefront capacity.

    You can find more information on the Greater Des Moines Partnership website.
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