More restaurants headed for downtown


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As the summer months bring the heat, change ensues at the Old Capitol Town Center, with the pending arrival of three new restaurants.

Later this summer, the mall will introduce Pizza Bros. and Sparti’s Gyros, in addition to the reopening of Zaika under its new name, Wraps ’n’ Roll.

With an occupancy rate of 99 percent at the mall, according to Old Capitol Town Center general manager Kevin Digmann, hopeful business owners do anything but shy away from the already competitive food industry in downtown Iowa City.

Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Downtown District, said the businesses continue to thrive.

“The Old Capitol mall has lots of activity,” Bird said.  “People who are thinking of new ideas think, ‘If it can happen, it’ll happen downtown.’ ”

This mindset has attracted the owner of a “new style” pizza restaurant called Pizza Bros., Digmann said.

While the owner declined to comment, he said the restaurant will open Aug. 1 in a June interview.

Accompanying Pizza Bros. to the scene will be Sparti’s Gyros, a familiar name to Coralville residents; it is currently located on Second St.

The family-owned Greek restaurant is to replace Sam’s Steamed Caboose Burger, which announced its closure in the Old Capitol Town Center location April 18.

Keith Brophy, the owner of Sparti’s Gyros, hopes to expand his business to Iowa City after its success in its first four years in the Coralville location, he said.

Brophy said the goal is to be open by the middle of August.

Another business, the Mediterranean and Asian inspired Zaika, hopes to change its image.

“They changed the name [to Wraps ’n’ Roll],” Digmann said. “They’re remodeling and are going to reopen.”

Owner Zameer Khan declined to speak with The Daily Iowan at this time.

Perhaps the change occurring at the Old Capitol Town Center is a result of its increasing popularity, Bird said.

“When it’s really hot, the mall is a nice place to be,” she said. “The community typically comes out more in the summer.”

While the summer months are usually slower because of the smaller student population, this time of year brings out more families, which could contribute to the mall’s success, Bird said.

“Downtown caters more toward the university crowd,” she said.

This contrasts with the mall’s more family-friendly image.

“[The Old Capitol Town Center] is clean, safe … and in a convenient location with parking,” she said. “The mall is a great complement to the more traditional storefronts. There are different types of stores.”

In addition to family favorites such as Noodles and Co., the mall caters to numerous ethnicities with Asian-inspired restaurants such as Sushi Kicchen and Seoul Grill.

“[The mall] is widely used by the Asian community,” Bird said. “It’s good that we offer different types of foods.”

As for the composition of businesses downtown, the food industry is far from reaching saturation, Bird said.

“We have a very dynamic downtown,” she said. “We’re definitely known for good food.”

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