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

Plant-themed cocktail lounge The Green House garners community during first year of business

UI alum and business owner, Emily Salmonson, reflects on the growth of The Green House one year after opening.
Ben Koth
Patrons enjoy their free time at the Green House in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. Sunday, Sep. 3 marks the bar’s one year anniversary of its opening.

A year after opening as a plant-themed bar in downtown Iowa City, The Green House is continuing to succeed through local collaborations with nonprofits and small businesses.  

Emily Salmonson, a University of Iowa alumni and former FilmScene director of operations, opened The Green House last year on Sept. 3 at 505 E. Washington St. 

Salmonson said she has been so busy hosting events, such as candle-making classes, plant bingo with beer tastings, and even a wedding, she can’t believe it has already been a year since opening. 

“We do a lot of community events, but we also host a lot of private events,” she said. “We just have this platform where we can engage [with] the community in a really meaningful way.”

RELATED: UI alum opens Iowa City bar with ‘botanical twist’

Working with other local businesses has been a high priority for the establishment since its opening. The Green House has collaborated with numerous Iowa City businesses, including Beno’s Flowers and Gifts, New Pioneer Food Co-op, and Wild Culture Kombucha, and community organizations and nonprofit groups. 

“I think it’s just so important to have those kinds of collaborations within the community because it’s good for everyone,” she said. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of really cool people and it’s a great community. I think everybody wants to build each other up and support each other in whatever way they can.”

The plant-themed cocktail lounge originally opened with the intention that people would have a place to reconnect without the overstimulation that many bars are by default. The bar houses dozens of plants and a relaxing patio. 

“I especially love when you look at people’s faces and they are actually looking at each other in the eyes,” she said. “It’s just really nice to be able to see our patrons really enjoying each other.” 

Just after opening last year, the bar hosted its first event in collaboration with Iowa City Bike Library, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to getting more people outside and on bicycles. The event, Farm Cycle 2022, took participants on a bicycle ride over 50 miles long, stopping at multiple local farms before ending at The Green House. 

Salmonson said the event has been memorable because of how smoothly it went not long after the grand opening. 

“We’re actually doing that again this year,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it and it seems like it will all come full circle.” 

Audrey Wiedemeier, director of Iowa City Bike Library, said the decision to end this year’s ride at The Green House was made in response to the positive reviews received after the 2022 event. 

“They just loved the ambiance of the place,” Wiedemeier said. “It was big enough to handle 100 people at a time but intimate enough that people could still have conversations and recap what they did on the farms that day and how their bike rides went.” 

This year’s event will take place on Sept. 24, ending at The Green House for another year of post-ride banter and friendly interaction. 

“Just to see how many people feel really comfortable here and to see them really enjoying the space and having people come in once or twice or three times a week, that’s what I’m most proud of,” Salmonson said.

Salmonson said she gives a lot of credit to her staff as well, who she regularly receives compliments about from both new and returning customers. 

“I think everybody who we’ve hired and who we’ve brought in fits really well with our team,” she said. “They go above and beyond and that just really warms my heart.” 

Chloe Cummings, a bartender at The Green House, said the best part about working at the location is the customers that the business attracts, despite what one would expect while working at a bar. 

“The space is super relaxing and really enjoyable,” Cummings said. “I really love the high diversity. We get older people, younger college kids, and even children here because we have a lot of nonalcoholic drinks too.”

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About the Contributor
Sydney Becker, News Reporter
Sydney is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism, while also obtaining a writing certificate. Previous to her role as a news reporter, she worked as a sports reporter for The Daily Iowan during her freshman year and as an editorial writer for campus organizations.