NORTH LIBERTY– Only combinations of adjectives work to describe the newest dining and pub experience in North Liberty: nostalgic and current; upscale and comfortable; simple and tasteful; classic and trendy.
Red’s Alehouse mixes it all together in one smooth, cool blend.
Faye Swift and her son Matthew have transformed the building at 405 N. Dubuque St. in North Liberty into an eating and drinking establishment offering something unique for anyone’s palate.
Faye Swift owned Slugger’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Coralville from 1988 until the floods of last June destroyed the old building. When she couldn’t find an ideal place to relocate there, and because the North Liberty community had already piqued Faye’s interest, she was pleased to find the former Rookie’s building for sale.
“North Liberty is still a quaint town,” Faye said. “I see this as a place that will also enhance the neighborhood.”
Taking a comprehensive approach, the Swifts completely remodeled the interior and changed the exterior of the restaurant, and are continuing to update the grounds around the outside. “We are now having the property surveyed so the back of the building– and the whole property– is also appealing,” said Faye. “I don’t want the neighbors in the back to be looking at dumpsters.”
Future plans include a patio with outdoor fireplaces and a picket-style fence, hand-carved wooden signs and bicycle racks.
“If we are going to maintain our charm, we can’t all look the same,” Faye said.
With the help of Faye’s brother, George Pappageorge, an architect whose credentials span buildings on Michigan Avenue in Chicago to Blackstone Restaurant on the east side of Iowa City (also owned in part by the Swifts), and Faye’s mother, a professional designer, the inside of the restaurant now resembles a 1940s night club with a Chicago-style bar, decked out in rich mahogany highlighted by chic neon lights.
“The whole setup is kind of a throwback to older times,” Faye said. Daughter Christina, who manages Red’s Alehouse, described it as a “unique blend of retro and modern, with funky and warm colors. There is no other place like this in the Corridor. ”
The menu is also a tasteful combination of past and progressive.
Long-time fans of the old Slugger’s will be pleased; the Swifts have brought some of the old menu favorites along from their former Coralville restaurant, including Slugger’s famous “good old hamburger that is the best anywhere,” said Faye, along with contemporary additions like flat bread dishes or seared tuna, and “things we think taste good,” Faye said. Eventually, food specials will be added to the menu.
Already offered is the daily drink special– two-for-one drinks on everything from 3 to 6 p.m. “Everything. Every day,” Faye emphasized. “We invite you to come and have a drink and share one with a friend.”
Sharing is easy to do at Red’s. There are 18 different types of beer on tap, from imports like Stella Artois and Hacker-Pschorr to fashionable brews like Honker’s Ale and Moose Drool to perennial favorites like Bud Light and Miller Lite. The Swifts decided if they were to be North Liberty’s premier Alehouse, they should call upon the area’s premier beer expert. They contacted Doug Alberhasky of John’s Grocery, Iowa City’s long-established corner retailer with a wide-spread reputation for selling a variety of world-class and hard-to-find beverages. Doug was instrumental in helping the Swifts develop their extensive beer list.
“We knew we should offer something nobody else has,” said Matthew. “We even have a few beers that are John’s Grocery exclusives and some imports you can’t get on tap in the area. We offer something for everyone, even those with a little more sophisticated taste in beers.”
Matthew, who is part-owner and general manager for the Swifts’ restaurants, said he is thrilled simply to be up and running again after the devastation and difficulties brought by last spring’s floods.
“We were in limbo for so long,” he said. “It is amazing to come from total destruction to this, which is so comfortable and exciting.”
Again, a mixing of adjectives aptly describing Red’s Alehouse.
“Whether you are in t-shirts or suits, we feel like Red’s is good for business meetings or getting together with your friends for a cold beer,” Matthew added.