New Altoona restaurant Brick & Ivy opens amid coronavirus restrictions
Joyce Flinn, Iowa's Homeland Security and Emergency Management director, says things are working well with state's coronavirus response. Des Moines Register
This is not the opening Nate Stewart and Brandon Wagoner had in mind when they decided more than a year ago to build Brick & Ivy Rooftop in Altoona.
The partners said their goal was to open this month, and they met that by serving their first customers around 4 p.m. Wednesday. But instead of greeting them at the door and showing off Altoona's first rooftop bar, all orders were taken over the phone and delivered curbside.
"It's safe to say coronavirus was not factoring into our plans," Stewart said Wednesday morning. "Who would've guessed that this is where we'd be in March? We didn't. But at the same time, for any business — you’re going to have to adapt, you’re going to have to take unexpected changes and turn them towards your benefit. This is just another unexpected change."
In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds temporarily ended dine-in services for restaurants across the state, an order that will be in place until nearly midnight on March 31. Restaurants are still allowed to provide food and beverages through drive-thru, carry-out and delivery.
Brick & Ivy announced on its Facebook page March 24 that the restaurant would be open and offering curbside pickup the next day, its first official day of business.
"We’re disappointed we’re unable to open fully as planned," Stewart said. "But we've gotten a lot of positivity from the Altoona community on getting a taste of what we’re going to be able to offer."
They were planning to just have managers and just a few cooks in to start off the night slow, but they're staffing up after due to the response of their announcement.
"The response from people in Altoona, other restaurant owners has been incredible," he said. "People do support local here, and we're hoping to repay that with getting them some good food while they're stuck at home, in a healthy manner."
Their pickup menu, posted on their website, is limited compared to what will be offered when the business is fully open.
"We don't want the first time our customers try one of our 21-day aged steaks to be out of a Styrofoam container," Stewart said. "And having a more limited menu now means when we do our grand opening, we’ll be able to have some surprises and that atmosphere for customers' first time inside."
Brick & Ivy wants to create a unique atmosphere for customers by combining sports bar entertainment, a rooftop drinking space and fine dining experience in their two-floor establishment, Stewart said.
Brick & Ivy shares a building at 400 34th Ave. SW in Altoona with Giliberto's Mexican Taco Shop, which also opened recently.
Curbside pickup at Brick & Ivy is currently available from 4-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Right now, Stewart and Wagoner are not sure when they'll be able to officially open their doors. They said they'll follow best health practices and government regulations regarding COVID-19.
"We’ve really just been trying to stay calm, and make measured decisions," Stewart said. "But we’re trying to do something big here, so hopefully everything ends up calming down and we can bring this new experience to the community."
#DSMstrong is a series of stories that showcases how our communities are coming together to support businesses and one another during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re looking for your stories about individual good deeds, businesses that are transforming their operations to continue serving and employing Iowans, and charities that are bridging the gaps. Email submissions to Register business editor Bill Steiden at email@example.com, or submit them using the form below.
Brick & Ivy Rooftop
Address: 400 34th Ave. NW, Altoona
This story has been updated to reflect changed hours for weekend curbside pick-up.
Robin Opsahl covers the eastern Des Moines metro for the Register. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8051. Support reporters who follow your community by becoming a subscriber. Sign up at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal.