Iowa City businesses taking steps to slow COVID-19 spread

Several downtown businesses are closing, changing hours, or adjusting services offered to slow the spread of COVID-19.


People walk around downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

Iowa City restaurants and businesses are taking steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, with some shops emphasizing online sales and restaurants focusing on carryout and delivery.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is not currently recommending Iowa’s restaurants, bars, and other shops close to mitigate COVID-19 spread, but the City of Iowa City said in a Tuesday news release that it urges residents to stay home to slow the spread of novel coronavirus — particularly limiting large gatherings before St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.

“We applaud the local businesses that have decided to close, limit hours, or shift to delivery and pickup models ahead of the holiday,” the release said. “Though a difficult decision for business owners, we urge others to do the same.”

What’s the Iowa City Downtown District doing to encourage buying local?

According to the Iowa City Downtown District Facebook page, Chomp is offering free delivery from downtown restaurants with the promo code ICDD. The code will available through April.

The Facebook page also urged the community to continue to support downtown businesses. Starting Monday, those who spend $100 online or purchase a gift card at any Iowa City Downtown District business or arts and culture venue may send the district a copy of their receipt to receive a $25 Downtown District gift card.

“Please support our downtown businesses where you can,” the post stated. “One of the best ways to help cash flow during this time is by purchasing gift cards for use at a later date or by shopping locally online.”

These efforts come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

The White House on Monday advised avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people for the time being, as well as avoiding eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts; and avoiding discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.

This post will be updated as more stores and restaurants respond to COVID-19. Continue to check this page for updates.


Joe’s Place on Iowa Avenue announced Monday it is closing effective immediately until further notice.

“We love this community — you all have become family to us over the years,” owner and operator Brian Flynn wrote in a Facebook message. “In an effort to protect you, our beloved community and our staff, Joe’s Place will be closing, effective immediately, until further notice. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for the full support you’ve all given us over the years. We hope to re-open very soon!”

Studio 13 has decided to close until April 1 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Owner Jason Zeman started a GoFundMe “to help the employees and business continue and come back to work immediately at full pay when this is over.”

“Please be safe and do your part to help everyone you can in this national crisis,” a Facebook post said. “We will reopen as fast as safely possible and look forward to partying with you all again.”

Sports Column owners Billy and Todd announced Monday that the Dubuque Street bar is also closing immediately until further notice.

“This world has changed immensely in the past seven days and continues to evolve even as I type this message,” they wrote. “We will miss our loyal Iowa City family during this time, but assure you we will be ready to serve you again once this pandemic has passed. This situation has reminded us that no matter which restaurant or bar you choose to frequent, we are all in this together and we fully believe we will overcome this obstacle and come out stronger. Please be safe and healthy and we hope to see you all again very soon.”


Big Grove’s Iowa City and Solon locations have temporarily suspend in-house guest services. The Solon Brewpub will be open for call-in curbside pickup at 11 a.m. Tuesday, and the Iowa City Taproom will be closed Tuesday and will reopen Wednesday for call-in curbside pick-up.

“We will be offering curbside/to-go food and beverage service at both locations, including made-from-scratch, family-style food options and our packaged craft beer during this closure,” a Facebook post said. “The brewery team will continue the production of your favorite brews to keep them stocked at your favorite stores. We will continue to provide support to our staff and will be assisting employees as much as possible through this challenging period.”

The Airliner shared that starting Tuesday, it will close its dining operations until further notice. Carryout services, curbside pickup, and delivery through Chomp and GrubHub will remain available.

Dumpling Darling on Iowa Avenue switched to carryout and delivery only effective immediately Monday. Its hours will be reduced from noon to 8 p.m. until further notice, according to Facebook.

“This is a difficult time for us as small business owners but we know that we need to put the health and safety of our community over profits,” the post said. “Please stay home, order takeout from local businesses when you can, and take care of each other.”

Nodo announced on its Facebook page that it will be carryout only “for the foreseeable future.” The restaurant’s food also remains available through the Chomp delivery service.

“We feel this is the best option to keep everyone, our employees and our customers, safe during this unprecedented situation that we all are dealing with,” the post said. “We want to encourage you to call in your order and pay with a credit/debit card over the phone. We think this is the safest option for everyone involved!”

Formosa has announced it is only offering delivery and carryout, and it is partnering with Chomp to offer free delivery.

Goosetown Café owners Peter and Kathy Kessler wrote on their Facebook page Monday that they have transitioned to carryout and delivery only and have closed sit-down dining effective immediately.

“It is our intent to return to pre-virus staffing needs and hours of operation as soon as possible,” the Kesslers wrote. “All who work for us now will have a job when we return to full service.”

Cortado Coffee and Café on Clinton Street has also closed dine-in service, effective Monday, but will soon offer details on pick-up and delivery options.

Stores and other spaces

Revival Clothing Store is going online only beginning Monday, operating via its website and social-media channels. It’s offering personalized shopping options such as FaceTime or other messaging apps, according to a Facebook post.

“We can not begin to express our gratitude for all the support you have given Revival,” the post said. “We are a strong community and we will get through this by supporting each other. Keep sending out all that good, positive energy into this beautiful world and we will keep doing the same.”

The MERGE Iowa City coworking space announced those with keycard access will be allowed into its Pedestrian Mall building, but its doors will remain locked to the general public until March 30.

“We are a community space and well aware of our responsibility to model social distancing practices during this public health situation,” the Facebook post said. “At this time we are closing MERGE and CoWork @ 808 to all limited memberships and asking everyone to work from home… We will reassess the local situation at that time and keep you all informed. We apologize for any inconvenience.”


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