Whiskey bar

New restaurant in former location of Whiskey River Ingersoll

After two men were shot and injured in Whiskey River in March, owner Joe Romare said he was closing the Ingersoll Avenue bar and grill for good.

“It’s not worth it to me,” Romare said. “All of my staff have quit. It’s not easy to hire people, so it’s like a forced closure. I don’t want to put my staff in that position. They’re quite traumatized that it even happened. “

Romare said that while he loves the Ingersoll neighborhood, the gun violence after an argument at the Whiskey River bar is “a huge responsibility and a huge risk for me.

“It’s not worth coming to Des Moines or being near Des Moines because they can’t control the violence,” Romare said. “I’m getting out of here and going back to my peaceful zones.”

On April 6, Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said no arrests have been made in connection with the Saturday March 19 shooting.

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Whiskey River originally took over the Teddy Maroons space

Whiskey River first moved into the Ingersoll business district in October 2020, replacing the Teddy Maroons of the Orchestrate Hospitality group.

The move was Romare and his wife Nicki’s first foray into Des Moines after the couple launched Whiskey River in Ames in 2010 and a second location in Ankeny in 2016. The Romares also own the Founders Irish Pub in Bondurant and the Sweet Nashville-inspired Caroline’s which opened in downtown Ames in October.

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What’s coming in Whiskey River space?

Located at the corner of Ingersoll and 23rd Street, Whiskey River at 2301 Ingersoll Ave. is a coveted location offering rooftop seating and a view of the downtown Des Moines skyline.

It is not surprising that the space is already reserved.

In June, Tony Lemmo, the owner of Aposto – which is also a Des Moines partner Gusto Pizza Co., juniper moon cocktail bar and The breakfast club and West Des Moines’ Tequila and tacos from El Guapo mexican restaurant and Anna Dolce Ristorante Italian restaurant – promises a new restaurant that will focus on food and is ideal for families or romantic evenings.

Tony Lemmo, owner of Aposto, plans to expand into the Whiskey River space on Ingersoll with a new restaurant which is "friendly and family."

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Lemmo said he’s been monitoring the location for a while and even if “two successful bands couldn’t make it work, sometimes you have to find the solution.

“The idea was born 15 years ago in Des Moines and it has gone through a few different evolutions and it will be the absolute dream, the final destination for this concept,” Lemmo said. “It’s a fun neighborhood spot that a lot of people know about.”

Lemmo declined to share additional details as the partnerships are finalized. His new restaurant comes amid the city’s $17 million beautification and restoration project along a one-mile stretch of Ingersoll from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to 31st Street.

“It’s absolutely the crown jewel of Des Moines in my opinion,” Lemmo said. “Places that attract violence are filled with bars. What we do is so family-centric. It’s going to be a concept that will probably close at midnight on weekends, so I have no worries.”

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Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for The Register. Join her at herodriguez@registermedia.com or on Twitter @byherodriguez.