Bicyclists on the popular Cedar River Trail will have a watering hole and deli designed to cater to them when they get to Cedar Lake just north of downtown Cedar Rapids.
The new eatery, which will be called Sag Wagon Deli & Brew, is the brainchild of Marty Hoeger, who saw the hard-to-see commercial possibilities for a 974-square-foot building at 827 Shaver Rd. NE that backs up to Cedar Lake and that, most recently, has been home to a gutter and roofing company.
“A sag wagon is a support vehicle that saves stranded riders,” said Hoeger, who purchased the building about two months ago. “So that’s the theme.”
Hoeger noted that the new eatery and bar will front a part of the trail loop around Cedar Lake, and at the same time be positioned to cater to the Shaver Road NE industrial area, with plenty of employers and employees but no nearby restaurants or bars.
“I’m a cyclist, and this is literally right on the bike trail,” said Hoeger, president/CEO of the non-profit Neighborhood Development Corp. He said he drives on Shaver Road NE every day getting from his house to work, and he said of the area, “It’s pretty vibrant, but you don’t know it exists until you drive by it every day.”
The new eatery will feature deli sandwiches, salads and soups and a 3,000 square foot patio out by Cedar Lake. Out front will be room to park about 100 bicycles.
On Tuesday, the City Council is slated to approve a change of zone for Hoeger’s property from an industrial zoning classification to a commercial one. Hoeger secured variances from the Board of Adjustment on Monday to allow the restaurant to offer outdoor service as well as indoor service, and to operate with fewer parking spaces than the city normally requires.
Hoeger said the city council has been looking to make the Cedar Lake area more inviting for more than a decade. In 2007, for instance, the city bought a few small houses down the street from Hoeger’s new restaurant, with the idea that they one day would be demolished to add park area to the lake shore. The houses were flooded in 2008 and now have been demolished.
In 2005, seven Cedar Rapids area Rotary Clubs finished a $200,000 project to beautify Cedar Lake, described then as a no-swim, no-eat-the-fish, I-get-no-respect lake in an industrial area just north of downtown.
Hoeger said renovation at the coming Sag Wagon Deli & Brew is underway, with opening day slated for Memorial Day or shortly afterward.
Joe Denny, who operates Third Base Brewery, 500 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, and Bushwoods Sports Bar & Grill, 350 Edgewood Rd. NW, will operate Sag Wagon Deli & Brew, Hoeger said.