The Hawk High Energy Bar: an off-campus locale with an on-campus feel

The Hawk High Energy Bar is a place for the Iowa City community to come together and make healthy choices.


Gabby Drees

Karlee Cleary, owner, pours water into a drink at The Hawk High Energy Bar located on Linn Street in Iowa City on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. “I chose [to open up in] Iowa City because I have nutrition clubs from Dubuque [to] all the way here, and [I] was asked by a couple girls, originally from Dubuque, that go to school here if I would consider one here, [and] now here we are.” The Hawk High Energy Bar opened in October of 2021.

Sydney Hurley, Arts Reporter

Health teas, workout shakes, and a community space for students — the Hawk High Energy Bar has already established itself as a refreshing locale for Iowa City’s health-oriented community within its first few months of opening.

The bar initially opened in Iowa City in August 2021 on 341 South Linn Street.

Owned by Karlee Cleary, who owns seven other businesses in Dubuque and Iowa City, the bar was opened to provide the community with healthy alternative drinks options, including Herbalife products, lit teas, pre- and post-workout shakes, and meal replacement shakes.

Cleary said her goal for The Hawk is to bring the Iowa City community together. Just recently, she streamed the 2022 Super Bowl Sunday on the televisions in the health bar to let people watch together.

“I really like the one-on-one with people,” Cleary said.

RELATED: Iowa City’s first Indigenous woman-owned business fuses art, fashion, tradition, and healing

University of Iowa sophomore Paityn DeBoer said she is at The Hawk a maximum of four days a week. She frequently organizes study groups with her friend at the health bar.

DeBoer said she feels that The Hawk is never too loud, so she can work all day without any pressure to leave because of noise distraction. She explained that when doing her homework at The Hawk, it seemed to go smoother than at other study locations.

“To me, The Hawk is like the perfect study environment, it like kind of gives me that almost small-town feel,” DeBoer said.

The Hawk has Wi-Fi available for students, as well as tables and a couch for studying. DeBoer first started coming to The Hawk within the first few weeks of its opening and said she prefers The Hawk to other coffee shops or spaces because of its drinks. While coffee couldn’t keep her awake, The Hawk’s drinks did the job.

“I once got a lit tea for my drive home — which is seven hours — and when I’d have Starbucks, I would get tired — I’d crash within like the first two and a half to three [hours],” DeBoer said. “I had a lit tea it got me the whole seven hours, plus I wasn’t tired that night.”

The Hawk’s lit tea flavors change every day, sometimes four times a week. DeBoer said she adds a collagen supplement to her lit teas, which the Hawk offers. The pre- and post-workout shakes can be personalized with flavors like cake batter or dark chocolate coconut.

University of Iowa junior Michela Lens works behind the counter at the bar, making smoothies and shakes for customers and managing the cash register.

Lens said she believes that The Hawk caters to many different types of people throughout the community due to the different menu options. She noted that she sees nurses pick up an energizing lit tea before their shifts, and that she usually serves athletes, medical staff, and people going to and from the gym.

Lens also noted that The Hawk works with local organizations to give back to the Iowa City community by organizing fundraising events.

“We did one for Dance Marathon, we did one for Alpha Chi Omega… we also do lit tea drops to small businesses throughout Iowa City, so we’ll give free samples,” Lens said.

The Hawk High Energy Bar is active on Instagram, where can customers can order ahead and the bar can show off their drinks and give information about daily flavors.