The Java House plans to open sister company


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The Java House will soon add a new restaurant next door, and some University of Iowa business officials said the move could play to an untapped food market.

Java House President and owner Tara Cronbaugh said she plans to open a sister business called Heirloom Salad Co. in the space previously occupied by Vortex during the week of April 23.

"I came across the idea through some of my travels," Cronbaugh said. "I realized that I loved the chopped-salad concept. If I love a product or concept it seems so natural to bring it to Iowa City."

Cronbaugh said the restaurant at 211 E. Washington St. will offer a healthy alternative to fast food and try to make use of locally grown heirloom tomatoes — from which the eatery gets its name.

UI entrepreneurial lecturer Joe Sulentic said Cronbaugh's familiarity with downtown will give the restaurant an advantage.

"There are always risks in opening a business. [It might be] less risky because you really have a good understanding of the amount of foot traffic and the type of customer that visits your establishment," Sulentic said. "You will have much better market intelligence."

Opening a sister company next door will allow the Java House to supply its customers with other types of products that it is not now supplying, he noted.

UI statistics Associate Professor Samuel Burer said the store's unique presentation is a good business decision for appealing to a new market.

"I don't believe there is anything like that in Iowa City," he said. "I think that this shop is a little bit different and will appeal to a lot of people downtown."

Cronbaugh intends to use a vintage theme when decorating the restaurant, including featuring a full gallery of historical photographs of the UI. She also plans on expanding the Java House to provide a small room at the back for small parties or professional meetings, making for a total of 175 seats available between the two companies.

Some UI students voiced an interest in the business endeavor.

UI graduate student Aaron Hersh, who visits the Java House around once a week, said the restaurant had the potential to attract customers.

"Downtown Iowa City gets their fair share of college students looking to spend their money on food," he said.

UI junior Audrey Williams said she agreed.

"I don't like salads, but the idea of a restaurant devoted to them is certainly intriguing," she said.

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