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

Daydrink coffee shop opens second location in historic building on East Bowery Street

Daydrink coffee shop opens second location in historic building on East Bowery Street
Grace Smith
Barista Kara Thai makes coffee at Daydrink’s new location on Bowery Street in Iowa City on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. Daydrink on Bowery Street, which also has a location on the Pedestrian Mall, opened its doors on Thursday to eager coffee and tea drinkers.

The one-story storefront of the historic building on East Bowery Street sticks out from the other residential buildings with its stark black exterior and unusual rounded facade, but behind its doors, a different story is told.

The bright interior is designed to reflect the people-first values of its new occupant coffee shop, Daydrink.

Daydrink’s second location opened on Aug. 24 at 518 E. Bowery St. in the historic building formerly occupied by the Bowery Street Grocery Store.

More on Daydrink’s opening day and a look into their new location:

The building has been rooted in the east side residential area since the late 19th century and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

“We hope to honor its origins with our mission of community and sustainability,” staff at Daydrink wrote in an Instagram post on Aug. 18.

Daydrink’s motto, “A Coffee Shop That Gives a Damn,” is a sentiment that reflects its people-first quality of service, products, and relationship with the community. The coffee shop opened in its original Iowa City Pedestrian Mall location in September 2020.

Daydrink did not have an easy start. Not only did it open in the thick of the pandemic, but it lacked vital equipment like an espresso machine and a coffee grinder. For months, employees could only serve cold brew and pour-over coffee. It was the community that sustained the business, said Daydrink Co-Founder Connor Moellenbeck.

“There were a lot of people who still come to Daydrink to this day that got us through long days, cold days, not-a-lot-of-money-coming-in days … It was a little bit of us being naive, a little bit of this community really backing us,” Moellenbeck said. “I think at that moment, we needed each other.”

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When Daydrink was just a budding idea during the onset of the pandemic, downtown home essentials store Basic Goods offered it space to sell craft coffee. Moellenbeck said this support between businesses should be a model for all downtown stores.

Daydrink’s mission has always been the intersection of community and sustainability, said Jonah Terry, the coffee shop’s creative director and co-owner.

“We want to make sure our community is beautiful in a beautiful space for the beautiful people in it,” Terry said.

Since its opening, the cafe has dedicated itself to sustainability by serving drinks in glass jars rather than single-use cups and providing a fully vegan menu to customers. The coffee shop was nominated for “Most Sustainable Cafe” by popular coffee blog Sprudge in January 2023.

Nearly three years since its opening, Daydrink was ready to expand, Moellenbeck said.

The Bowery Street Grocery Store was a staple for the surrounding residential community. According to local building restoration and preservation organization Preservation Iowa, it was likely built in the 1860s and served the Iowa City community as a meat market before converting into illegal student housing, and, eventually, as an Italian grocery store.

As time passed, the building’s physical structure began to fail, requiring rezoning to return it to standards for commercial use.

It seemed the building was on its way to demolition until the owners, community members, and historic preservation advocates came together to facilitate its rezoning, leading to the building’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. The preservation efforts of the community earned the building an award, “Preservation at its Best,” granted by Preservation Iowa in 2015.

Daydrink Co-Owner Ian Castillo described their discovery of the Bowery Street building as a moment of serendipity.

“We didn’t initially know that it was the original Iowa City Co-Op,” Castillo said. “Once we found that out, there was an obvious tie-in for what we try to do with the community.”

During the building’s renovation, the only interior structure that remained was the original white shelving against the west wall of the building. Moellenbeck said the shelving was “an opportunity to showcase what the space is now and showcase what this place has been.

Daydrink owners described the coffee shop as an organization that prioritizes the relationships of team members and the business’s relationship with customers.

“Creating those sustainable relationships through our business only empowers this community and also shows that this all can be done,” Moellenbeck said. “You can be business-first but also people-first.”

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About the Contributors
Lily Czechowicz, Arts Reporter
Lily Czechowicz is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa from which she earned a degree in English & Creative Writing.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.