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

Goosetown Cafe hosts pop-ups after closure

The pop-up saw over 300 customers from Iowa City and surrounding areas.
Cody Blissett
Goosetown Cafe is seen in Iowa City on Friday, July 14, 2023.

After closing its doors as a restaurant in July, Goosetown Cafe shifted its focus to creating a space where various businesses can host temporary pop-up events.

At their first stab at this style of service, Goosetown owner Peter Kessler and Dumpling Darling owner Lesley Rish had to close shop after 30 minutes, when over 180 orders rolled in.

Customers from all over attended this event, traveling from as far as Des Moines and Chicago, just to taste the dumplings. Before the event started, there were over 300 people waiting in line.

Kessler and Rish were former friends and had been roommates 10 years before when Rish first founded the dumpling eatery.

“Working with Lesley was natural, and I wanted to create a restaurant space that had great atmosphere and energy,” Kessler said.

After having worked in the restaurant industry for 18 years, Kessler said that he knew that Rish and Dumpling Darling had a huge following, but he never thought that many people were going to show up so early.

After having closed Dumpling Darling in 2021, people were really excited about this pop-up event, and Rish herself was excited to serve her food to the community once again.

“The best way to describe how I felt after and during the event was that it was just exciting. I felt extremely supported by the community, despite how overwhelming all the orders were,” Rish said.

Because of the overwhelming demand, many people were disgruntled and angry. Customers who paid for their food but weren’t able to receive it were fully refunded within the week.

RELATED: Iowa City restaurant Goosetown Cafe closes its doors for good

Rish said now that they have done it once and know what they know, they will be able to make it a better experience next time.

Currently, Rish owns a home bakery called Oh-High Bakery. She started the bakery when she was pregnant and wanted a way to feel connected with her passion for baking from the comfort of her own home.

She said that there may be plans to build a kitchen space in her new home in Des Moines, where some events could be held in the future.

Kessler said he too has plans in the works with other restaurants and food trucks, many of which used to be in Iowa City but no longer are. Some private events, wedding receptions, and other celebrations have already been booked in both their indoor and outdoor space.

Ranging from public to private, Kessler hopes to establish a dynamic organization in a fun atmosphere, where the space can be specialized in a way that is catered to whoever chooses to use it.

“Our overall goal for that night was to work with your best friend and have fun,” Kessler said.

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About the Contributors
Shreya Reddy
Shreya Reddy, News Reporter
Shreya Reddy is a freshman at the University of Iowa. Coming from a small town in Kansas, Shreya is double majoring in English and Political Science on the Pre-Law track. Before coming to the Daily Iowan, she has written for her neighborhood magazine and her schools literary magazine as well as writing an investigative journalism piece.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.