The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Motley Cow to bid adieu

Ben Smith
Chef and Owner of Motley Cow Cafe, David Wieseneck, poses for a portrait in front of the kitchen. Wieseneck has owned Motley Cow for 15 years and is closing shop around June 17. (The Daily Iowan/Ben Smith)

An Iowa City staple, the Motley Cow Café, will close in June.

By naomi hofferber
[email protected]

A classic Iowa City restaurant will close its doors on June 17.

The Motley Cow Café, 160 N. Linn St., has operated in the North Side Marketplace for 18 years. The decision to close springs from a multitude of reasons, owner and head chef David Wieseneck said, including his desire to spend more time with his family.

“I have two young children, and the energy and time required to be a sole proprietor for a restaurant is pretty extreme,” Wieseneck said. “I wanted, while they were still young, to spend more time with them and have dinner around the table and such. I thought this was the only way to really do it.”

Wieseneck joined the Motley Cow in early 2000 as a chef and bought the restaurant in 2002. He said he believes the restaurant’s commitment to local ingredients was one key aspect that set the restaurant apart, as well as the customers.

“We have a core group of clientele who come here weekly if not more often; they’re people we know and have gotten to know very well and intimately, and they see this as a home away from home,” he said. “I think, ultimately, those bonds are what really set us apart and make this a special place.”

Motley Cow manager Peter Kessler said the restaurant’s community is a close one.

“We really are a neighborhood restaurant, fueled by people that live in Iowa City year-round, so when summer break happens and students go home, our business doesn’t necessarily drop off,” he said. “Our regulars all live in Iowa City, and we know their names, we know where they work, we know what’s going on in their lives.”

Kessler, who has worked at the Motley Cow the past two years, said it has been a formidable experience.

“[It has] delicious food, made the right way, using ingredients that come from Johnson County, comes from farmers, comes from the land that we all live on,” Kessler said. “It’s a restaurant that’s fueled by the state of Iowa, by Johnson County, by Iowa City.”

Kessler said the collaboration between the restaurant and local events has also added to the experience for the restaurant.

“Restaurants take an incredible amount of heart, soul, time, and money to run, and we respect Chef David Wieseneck’s decision to focus on new endeavors and his family,” Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, said in a statement to The Daily Iowan. “The [Downtown District] is incredibly grateful for his years of serving the community amazing food and developing a family quality around local food on the North Side and downtown Iowa City. I look forward to searching out his next endeavor.”

Wieseneck said that even though he is taking a break for now, he could see himself coming back to being a restaurant chef.

“[The restaurant] has brought me a whole new extended family,” he said. “We’ve established a lot of really strong bonds here. There have been hundreds of people who have worked here, and they’re people we keep in touch with and think fondly of.”

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