Cracken’s Grill ‘n Chill to open in Iowa City in early February

Cracken’s Grill ‘n Chill will soon be serving chicken, burgers, ice cream, and hand-dipped corn dogs to the Iowa City community.


Madyson Gomez

Cracken’s Chicken is seen in Iowa City on Rochester Ave. Cracken’s Chicken will be opening in February.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

Cracken’s Grill ‘n Chill, a new restaurant in eastern Iowa City, is set to open on Wednesday.  

Located at 2221 Rochester Ave., customers can expect a counter service and grab-and-go styled restaurant. The menu will consist of ice cream cones, twisters, shakes, burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenderloins, corn dogs, and more.

Cracken’s owner Ben McCracken said the restaurant will be open at the latest on Wednesday. Cracken’s is opening in the place of Hamburg Inn No. 2 East Side.

McCracken also owns and runs Funcrest Dairy & Grill, located at 977 W Overlook Road N.E. in Iowa City,​​ which specializes in tenderloins. McCracken started working at Funcrest in 2019, where he has been awarded best tenderloin in the area and runner-up for best fries in the area in 2021. 

Map by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

As for Cracken’s Grill ‘n Chill, McCracken expects the big-ticket item at his new place to be the corn dogs. 

“I think kind of our big thing is going to be fresh dipped corn dogs,” he said. “It's something where I personally wish there was a place that did it.” 

McCracken said he plans to work at Cracken’s as the owner and general manager. He said he is proud to be working at the restaurant and is excited to see what is to come.

“You take a different pride when it’s yours,” he said.

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He also likes to take a hands-on approach in his restaurants, McCracken said. At Cracken’s, he has built a small team with a few employees that will work alongside himself, his wife, and his mom. 

“It’s one of those things where we are going to be making sure everything is running as perfect as it can at all times,” he said. 

In the future, McCracken said he expects to build a patio on Rochester Avenue for the restaurant. He said he is hoping to provide open and outdoor seating in the spring. 

Overall, McCracken said he is looking forward to opening and bringing the east side of Iowa City a fresh new option for food. 

“The east side, I think restaurant-wise, hasn't had anything new for awhile, and we just kind of want to be that new fresh take,” he said.