Black Sheep Social Club Head Chef Joe Dooley and General Manager Christina Springman pose with the Signature Lamb Chops entree.  PHOTO/ANGELA HOLMES

 

Black Sheep Social Club, which opened in April in a renovated historic building in downtown Cedar Rapids, specializes in“Iowa soul food,” according to its general manager.

“We’re all Iowa kids who grew up around here,” GM Christina Springman said of the culinary team. “We are taking our travels and experiences, and elevating Iowa staples like pork chops and hamburgers.”

The results are homegrown creations such as meatballs made of ground lamb and chorizo, and bison burgers topped with goat cheese or kimchi. The most popular item on the menu, the Crunch Town Walleye Nuggets, gives a nod to the city’s Quaker Oats plant with Cap’n Crunch breading.

“You have a memory of this food, but something has changed,” said Head Chef Joe Dooley.

The “Black Sheep” refers to the goal of creating food and drinks just a little bit differently than the typical Iowa restaurant. The “Social Club” refers to the welcoming atmosphere of the freshly renovated building and its outdoor patio.

“It centers around the social aspect,” Ms. Springman said, adding that there are televisions around the bar, but not throughout the restaurant. “We’re trying to strike a balance between patrons who want to feel comfortable and those who expect a special night out.”

The Clock House building that formerly housed the Great American Furniture Mart sat vacant since being badly damaged in the flood of 2008. Developer Graig Cone and Ahmann Companies began renovations three years ago. The building, owned by Mr. Cone, also includes high-end residential units.

Mr. Cone is also developing Clock Tower Brewery in the Black Sheep space, which is scheduled to open this fall.

– Angela Holmes

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