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The Fletcher restaurant, which launched in Ankeny in 2016 and closed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will reopen this summer with new partners and a new plan.

Owners of The Fletcher Kitchen + Bar plan to relaunch the restaurant this summer in partnership with Des Moines-based Orchestrate Hospitality and award-winning chef George Formaro.

The 13,000-square-foot restaurant specializing in casual, upscale dining opened in 2016 in a remodeled portion of the former Dahl's Foods store on the city's north side.

But when the pandemic hit, The Fletcher's business model, which depended on live music, big parties and busy weekend brunches, was no longer sustainable.

"We didn't know what the future held because we didn't know how long the pandemic was going to last, so we just felt that the appropriate course of action was to close and prepare for the future," said Chris Murray, president and CEO of Denny Elwell Company, which owns the business.

As COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out across Iowa, Murray said talks began to relaunch the restaurant in partnership with Orchestrate and Formaro.

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Formaro, in partnership with Orchestrate, has had a hand in developing many well-known restaurants in the Des Moines metro, including Centro, Django, Malo, Gateway Market & Cafe, Liberty Street Kitchen and Zombie Burger + Drink Lab. The Fletcher will be the group's second full-service kitchen launched outside of Des Moines.

"The previous Fletcher had a pretty successful program," said Paul Rottenberg, president of Orchestrate Hospitality. "I think our challenge is to bring some of the tools we have — some of the talent that George and the culinary team bring — and add value to something that was already working."

The preliminary menu, Formaro said, will lean into the restaurant's unique smoker and pizza oven, with the possibility of bringing back some of the previous menu's most popular items.

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"We will build on what has been built, but we plan not to be where we are today, tomorrow and to keep advancing as best we can and fine-tuning things ... that job is never done," Formaro said.

The team is also looking to expand the bar's capabilities by adding a specialty cocktail program and expanding the selection of locally crafted beers.

Guests with gift cards previously purchased for The Fletcher will be able to use them when the restaurant relaunches service later this June.

Those interested in applying for back- or front-of-house positions can apply at OHospitality.com/Careers.

Melody Mercado covers the eastern Des Moines metro for the Register. Reach her at mmercado@registermedia.com or Twitter @melodymercadotv

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