Bread Garden Market opens extension to patio

BY GRACE PATERAS | MAY 11, 2015 5:00 AM

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Of the 74 orange chairs located at Bread Garden Market, Maria Ortega Kummer and her husband were the only customers outside at 2 p.m. on a gray Sunday afternoon.

The Iowa City residents were enjoying a Mother’s Day lunch on the new outdoor patio, which opened May 7 at the establishment, 225 S. Linn St.

Ortega Kummer said she often drinks hot tea in the glass-enclosed patio, but because the new outdoor patio is open, they gave it a shot.

“Most other places with patios are along the street,” she said. “This way, you not only have the Ped Mall, but you don’t have cars going by. The exhaust fumes and the noise [are an annoyance], and this is more pedestrian traffic.”

Bread Garden floor manager Drew McLaughlin said the extension of the previously glassed-in seating area was created to showcase a four-season area.

He said since the installation of the fence and new tables and chairs, the past couple of nights have been busier than usual.

“Spring is generally kind of a boom because people are looking for anywhere downtown to sit outside,” McLaughlin said. “There’s only a couple of places downtown that do have outdoors patios, so it’s kind of a hot commodity.”

Other businesses with a patio in downtown Iowa City include Bo-James, Micky’s, Formosa, and Donnelly’s Pub.

Java House, 211 E. Washington St., and connecting business Heirloom also have an outdoor patio.
Java House supervisor Liz Stam said weather changes might be one reason the patio trend is growing in downtown Iowa City.

“Since the weather in Iowa is so ridiculously terrible usually, it’s like ‘wow it’s so nice outside, let’s sit outside,’ ” she said. “And Iowa City is kind of an artsy town. I feel like it’s filled with a lot of people who like the outdoors, so why wouldn’t they want to do everything outdoors, like drink coffee.”

One other restaurant with outdoor seating, Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St., offers a patio to its customers.

“If it’s a good spring — which we’ve had — [patios] are very busy and very popular,” owner Leah Cohen said.

She said Bo-James was one of the first businesses to add outdoor seating downtown. Once the city realized patios could be beneficial to the city, officials allowed the idea to spread.

“Iowa City is so unique in the fact that its downtown and campus are together,” Cohen said. “A lot of students and their housing are in walking distance to downtown. All those factor into the successes to our [patios].”

Though the patio was expensive to start, she said, it has paid off.

Many businesses offering outdoor seating go through a cleanup process when doors close for the night.

Stam said workers clean and wipe down the tables and chairs. Then they stack them and lock them up as part of end-of-the-night duties.

However, Stam said, the process doesn’t take long, and it’s worth it for the customers.

“When they walk by and see that we have a patio, they think, ‘Oh, that would be really nice to eat outside or drink coffee,’ so they stop in,” she said.

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