House of Bricks bar/wait staff are training
the new Rooftop Bar hires. From left to
right, Meagan Tron toasts with a signature
Watermelon martini (made from real watermelons),
Heather Davis sips a locally-brewed Red
Rambler, Molly Kinsey shows off another
local beer from Madhouse and Katie McCoy
holds the minty Mojito, all along the
ledge overlooking East 6th and Grand.
By Amber Williams
If the House of Bricks is the “beast” of bar
scenes, then The Rooftop Bar that just opened
above it is the “beauty.” While tattooed and
pierced rebels rage on the ground floor, a martini-sipping
dinner crowd hardly notices from above. They
are two opposing forces harmoniously co-existing
in the East Village.
The Rooftop Bar opened in early July, bringing
yet another unique attribute to the eclectic,
old neighborhood. From the patio, patrons can
gaze down at the bustling intersection of East
Sixth Street and Grand, a convenient stop for
exploring shoppers, visitors and tourists. Still
in its infancy, though, it does take some exploring
to find The Rooftop, which is a bit hidden above
the grizzly guise of the House of Bricks.
“We moved the House of Bricks here in 2005,
and we knew this place had a bad roof,” said
co-owner JC Wilson.
“We figured, if we have to rip the roof off
anyway, let’s make it worthwhile,” added his
business partner, Nancy Wilson.
As the need for a new roof became more present,
the necessity evolved into a luxury — a vision
of an open patio restaurant and bar far different
from the Rock-n-Roll counterpart from which
it grew. They set to work in September of last
year, and 10 months later The Rooftop Bar became
a stellar reality.
“There’s nothing like this — everybody keeps
saying that — there’s nothing like this in Des
Moines, and it’s a nice place to have in the
East Village,” JC said.
If such a Jeckyll-and-Hyde duality can manifest
and thrive anywhere in the city, the East Village
has proven to be the place, according to Nancy,
who volunteers for Historic East Village Inc.
(the neighborhood association). But unlike the
good Dr. Hyde and his evil alter-ego, the House
of Bricks and The Rooftop Bar “feed off each
other,” she said.
“The bands and the fans hang out up here before
and after shows. On our comedy nights, the comedians
are up here before they go on, because they
like hanging out on the roof,” she laughed.
“It’s just a cool place to hang out.”
Speaking of cool, JC and Nancy said The Rooftop
will open depending on the weather, even in
a temperate winter. On hot days, it’s blocked
just enough from the sun to let the breeze cool
things down, and its indoor/outdoor design makes
it fairly easy to keep the bar heated on chillier
days, JC said. The roll-up, metal doors make
it as quick to open as a Little League concession
stand, but its décor is far from simple. A sleek,
marble bar top stretches across the indoor section
of the bar, while stylish, wooden tables are
garnished with candles and flowers on the patio.
Add a string quartet in the corner, and guests
will quickly forget the punk rockers they passed
at the door downstairs.
“We didn’t want to just market to the same people.
With The Rooftop, we can reach a broader audience.
We can reach everybody,” she said. CV
The Rooftop Bar
525 E. Grand Ave., 2nd Floor
Hours: 5 p.m.-close, Mon.-Fri.; 11 a.m.-close,
Kitchen Hours: Sun.-Thurs. open-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.,
Capacity: about 200