Iowa River Power Restaurant closing after nearly 46 years
August 5, 2023
Restaurant cites lease dispute in its closure after Thanksgiving
CORALVILLE — A restaurant that been a Coralville institution for nearly 46 years will be closing this fall.
The owner of Iowa River Power Restaurant, 501 First Ave., said she received an eviction notice from the owner of the building. The restaurant’s last day of service will be Nov. 26 — the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the restaurant confirmed in a social media comment.
Danise Petsel and her husband, David, bought the restaurant in 2002, which had opened in October 1977 in what had once been a power plant along the Iowa River dating to the early 1900s. They could not be reached for comment, but Danise Petsel told KCRG-TV she was “blindsided” by the eviction notice, which will take effect Jan. 7.
The restaurant’s original lease ran from 2002 to 2022. In October 2022, Petsel told the television station she opted to exercise a five-year lease renewal option. But Randy Ward, owner of the building, said he never received it, KCRG-TV reported, and had only a month-to-month arrangement with the Petsels.
Danise Petsel plans to retire after the closure. The news devastated other members of the staff, many of whom have served much longer than average in an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate.
“I’m well aware that a restaurant saying ‘we are like a family’ is a cliche, but no staff that you have ever interacted with can boast that like Iowa River Power,” Travis Heck, 16-year employee and server, told The Gazette. “I can tell you that our staff is generational.”
The Iowa River Power Restaurant first opened in 1977 after the property changed hands between the city of Coralville and local entrepreneurs a couple times between 1971 and 1976.
Decades later, Flannigan’s Bar & Grill, an Irish-themed pub, opened next door in the same building.
The Petsels bought Iowa River Power and Flannigan’s in December 2002. Flannigan’s closed last December after at least 20 years in business.