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Cosi Cucina gets sold; Full Court Press to close Sbrocco and hold benefit

El Bait Shop readies benefit to help employee.
El Bait Shop readies benefit to help employee.
Charles Walton

The last week has seen a flurry of restaurant news to match the flurries outside. One restaurant closed and then reopened, another announced their closing, and several establishments banded together to support one of their workers. Here are the stories.

Full Court Press (which owns Mullets, High Life Lounge, El Bait Shop, Hessen Haus, Fong's Pizza, and other downtown establishments) announced yesterday [as reported by Juice] that they would be closing Sbrocco Wine Bar & Restaurant after six years. An FCP partner made the announcement, saying that the group would be would try to sell the property now, while Court Avenue is being focused on so strongly by developers and the Des Moines City Council. The partner, Jeff Bruning, also said that Full Court Press bought the property at 208 Court Avenue as an investment, and that it was time to cut it loose to focus on other endeavors. Sbrocco is scheduled to close after March 15. Shorty's, the bar located under Sbrocco, will continue to operate, for now. Sbrocco was very highly regarded among local critics, and its closing will leave a void in the Court Avenue District.

Another well-respected Metro fixture, Cosi Cucina, closed recently after 20 years...but not for very long. The original owners, David and Bonnie Bartels, bought the business back from the current owner, Cy Gushiken (who also owns Ohana Steakhouse). The Bartels family still owned the building, located at 1975 Northwest 86th Street in Clive, after opening a Mr. Steak on that spot 40 years ago. The family converted the Mr. Steak to Cosi Cucina and then sold it after a few years under the new name. Gushiken purchased the restaurant five years ago and had closed the doors in hopes of moving the restaurant somewhere else. David Bartels heard the news and offered to buy the business back. So the restaurant only remained closed for a few days before re-opening with the same staff and menu. Cosi Cucina's Facebook page announced the re-opening last week. For many long-time fans, including this Examiner, this is a happy ending to what was looking like a very sad story for one of Clive's most beloved restaurants.

Finally, two more of Full Court Press's establishments made news today when they announced an upcoming benefit for an employee's family. High Life Lounge and El Bait Shop in Downtown Des Moines will host the Team Groomes Fundraiser Night on March 5 starting at 6 p.m. The adjoining establishments will have donated kegs, a raffle, and a silent auction to raise money for the medical expenses of the Groomes family. Brother Trucker will be performing live music for the event.

When members of the staff at Confluence Brewing Company heard of the family's plight, they also joined in. Tomorrow, the brewery will celebrate the release of their Batch 100 Golden Keg. At 5 p.m., the brewery will tap the keg and donate $.50 per pint sold to the Groomes family. They will also be taking donations for the family at the bar.

To learn more about the Groomes family and their heart-wrenching story, or to make a donation to the family, you can go to this fundraising site set up by friends of the family.

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