According to Aric Kos, there is a right way and a wrong way to do food.
Pork production, in particular, he said, “gets a bad rap. So we want to show how it’s done right.”
Kos is a local boy, raised in Kalona where he and his four brothers helped his dad raise hogs on Rob Brenneman’s farm.
Brenneman Pork Inc. promotes the air quality and the superior living conditions of its barns, which in turn prevent disease and contamination, Kos said. It has strict standards when it comes to food and water, and farm hands are committed to seeing every pig every day, according to Brenneman Pork.
That’s where Kos learned about food, and the experience inspired him to open his own eatery featuring locally raised pork and beef.
“Our main thing is trying to promote what Eastern Iowa has to offer,” Kos said. “I think Iowa City has gotten away from its roots ….”
Kos co-owns the Iron Hawk with Lee Henneberry and Blake Baumbach. They opened the bar and eatery on Washington Street on Sept. 22 and omitted the freezer on purpose.
“Nothing is frozen,” he said. “We make everything from scratch.”
The menu might be traditional bar fare, but Kos called it “bar food done right.”
Iron Hawk serves pork chops, tenderloins, bacon-infused pork burgers, pulled-pork sandwiches and pork “tender bites,” not to mention the various items on the beef side of the menu. There are also flat breads and 58 types of beer, including local brews from Coralville, Amana and Knoxville.
Kos got the idea to open the eatery about a year ago, after talking with Brenneman at a pork producer’s meeting. In October, Iron Hawk’s commitment to quality pork and beef production foundered a staff field trip to the Brenneman farm.
Diners have been steadily streaming in to the restaurant since it opened two months ago, Kos said. The location can also be reserved for large events accomodating 75 to 100 people.
Company: Iron Hawk
Address: 122 E. Washington St., Iowa City
Phone: (319) 333-1040
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Sunday. Kitchen closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays
Staff size: 58 employees
Favorite menu item:“I like the pork Parmesan sandwiches.”