Much ado about Shakepeare’s return


After months of anticipation, East Side Iowa City residents will soon be able to attend their neighborhood pub and grill after a fire halted service in late January.

Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill, 819 S. First Ave., will open on April 12 with new renovations and remodeling after a kitchen fire destroyed much of the bar and cooking areas, owner Susan Spalj said.

“It’s been a learning experience,” she said, noting that the same homey feel will remain for the restaurant. She said management took advantage of the repairs to also remodel the pub and upgrade restrooms, as well as install a new kitchen and a bar.

“I think it’s going to be really busy because a lot of people missed it,” Spalj said, who also owns Ugly’s, 210 N. Linn St., and Club Car, 122 Wright St.

When putting the fire out, she said, water damage affected the bar and the ceiling and floor, prompting a new custom bar. The restrooms will now be handicap accessible, she said.

“We all work together,” said Lindsey Colbert, a manager at Club Car. “These three bars that she owns all work together and help each other when any issues arise. It’s what we do.”

Colbert said many employees work interchangeably among the establishments, including two employees at Club Car who will begin working again at Shakespeare’s. She also said regulars from Shakespeare’s have been coming to Club Car temporarily, which has been a kind gesture.

“It has actually been really heartwarming the loyalty we have seen from these people,” Colbert said. “It is nothing like I’ve ever seen. You don’t realize how much people care until things like this happen.”

Longtime residents on the East Side Joe and Lori Lawton said they are excited to see the changes to the bar, because they have gone there occasionally for years.

“It’s nice to see the place come back from the fire,” Lori said. Joe added that he appreciates local Iowa City establishments surviving such incidents.

“I think it’s something that’s really appealing about Shakespeare’s and all of the bars are this way — it’s just cozy,” Colbert said. “They’re not very big, and you just feel like you’re at home.”

Spalj also said there will be a beer garden in May, which will be Shakespeare’s first.

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