Forbidden Planet to open in September


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From gutting a smoky shop to collecting classic arcade games, Forbidden Planet has been undergoing renovations before its Sept. 26 opening.

Forbidden Planet, 111 S. Dubuque St., a new pizzeria and arcade, will replace the Tobacco Bowl, which closed mid-May.

“We wanted to make sure we were starting a fresh place,” co-owner Luther Moss said. “People were in [Tobacco Bowl] smoking forever, so it was worthwhile for us to clean everything out and change things.”

The Tobacco Bowl had been open for 24 years before the owners decided to gut the place and create a new operation.

Forbidden Planet’s pizza menu will include a traditional Neapolitan crust, a deep-dish and metro slices, as well as salads, craft beers, ciders, and coffee drinks.

Moss, who had been a manager at Tobacco Bowl, said the renovations began in late May, and he does not know how much they have cost.

Recently, the building has undergone painting, had visits from electricians, and has seen heating and air conditioning units.

Though Tobacco Bowl has discontinued business, former employees have stuck together to help renovate and make Forbidden Planet come to life.

University of Iowa senior Chloe Waryan, who worked at the Tobacco Bowl for more than a year before it closed, manages the social media for Forbidden Planet and will wait tables once the arcade opens.

“Most of the staff of Tobacco Bowl have lent a hand in demolition and renovation of Forbidden Planet,” she said. “The process has been difficult but highly rewarding.”

Waryan said the project is starting from the ground up and is happening fast, and she is excited to be a part of it.

“It’s exhilarating to help build a new business, especially right in the middle of downtown Iowa City,” she said.

Moss said Forbidden Planet looks forward to broadening its horizons by welcoming new customers as well as old.

“I hope to see the same people,” he said. “I see them every week just out on the street, and I want to have a place for them.”

UI senior Rebecca McPhail plans on going to Forbidden Planet once it opens because she frequented Tobacco Bowl many times in the past.

“I used to go to Tobacco Bowl for coffee and tea drinks,” she said. “I really liked the coffee shop they had there.”

One official with the Downtown District said adding more businesses is good for the area.

“Having a diverse downtown better serves the community,” said Executive Director Nancy Bird. “It provides additional entertainment options.”

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