Upscale Italian restaurant planned for historic Cedar Rapids building

Popoli Ristorante & Sullivan’s Bar opening in 2014

Published: November 8 2013 | 5:00 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:11 pm in
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A new restaurant is taking shape in the historic Louis Sullivan Bank building.

FG Restaurants LLC has begun work on Popoli Ristorante & Sullivan's Bar, located at 101 Third Ave. SW, in the emerging Kingston Village on the west bank of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The upscale Italian restaurant is slated to open in April 2014.

Brandon Godwin, the restaurant's general manager, said the 7,000-square-foot restaurant will be able to seat up to 130 people. The menu is still being developed, Godwin said, adding that he hopes to hire a head chef in January, who will finish building the menu.

Popoli Ristorante will feature a bar, nicknamed Sullivan's Bar, that will offer specialty cocktails, craft and local beer selections, and an extensive wine list, as well as a wine room and two private dining rooms. One private dining room will seat up to 20 people and another -- located in the original bank vault -- will seat up to eight.

The building, designed by architect Louis H. Sullivan, opened in 1912 as Peoples Savings Bank. It housed a branch of Wells Fargo Bank until the June 2008 flood, when it sustained significant damage.

Sullivan was one of the most influential architects to come out of the Chicago School of architecture in the late 1800s. He is often called the "father of skyscrapers" and "father of modernism."

The building, which has been vacant since the flood, was named to Preservation Iowa's Most Endangered Properties list in 2012. Wells Fargo Bank stepped in and worked closely with Fred Timko and Gary Rozek to save the building.

Rozek and Timko purchased the building from Wells Fargo in December 2012.

Timko said in August 2012 that he wanted to renovate the bank tower for office use and convert the bank space into a restaurant.

Godwin said the budget to open the restaurant is about $1.5 million, and he plans to hire around 40 people.

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