A new speakeasy-themed bar and casual restaurant will hold its soft opening just in time for St. Patrick's Day - and co-owner Brandon Aiels is expecting the establishment's made-from-scratch food, 1920s-inspired cocktails and old-fashioned service to fill a badly needed niche in the Cedar Rapids market.
"Cedar Rapids doesn't even know what's coming," said Mr. Aiels, who will operate  Moniker 86 Social Club alongside his mother Jennifer at 821 Third Ave. SE  in the heart of the Cedar Rapids MedQuarter. 
Located in a mansion originally built by the Carpenter family in 1870, the new eatery housed Beatty Funeral Home in the early 1920s and was renovated for restaurant use in the late '80s, most famously as Daniel Arthur's and what the Aiels call "the appropriately named" Six Feet Under Bar.
"We've redone the whole thing - paint, lighting, everything," Mr. Aiels said. "It looks pretty freaking amazing, I'm not going to lie."
The restaurant's opening menu, posted on Facebook, offers a variety of dips from crab rangoon and hummus to margherita and bacon, leek and jalapeno, as well as small bites like stuffed mushrooms, turkey and pesto mini clubs and Thai chicken lettuce cups. Monicker 86 also features a full menu of Prohibition-era inspired drinks like mango and lime gin rickey and the "Cocoa Fashion," made with rye infused with cocoa, alcoholic cherries, vanilla demerara syrup and mole bitters. 
"My mother and I always wanted to open a restaurant," said Mr. Aiels, who has years of experience in the bar and restaurant industry. "I know she's my mom, but this is going to be the best food in Cedar Rapids with her brain and my palate. It's going to change Cedar Rapids."
The restaurant's name was inspired by legendary Prohibition-era tavern, Chumley's in New York City, where the term "86ed" was allegedly coined. Its owners, in cahoots with local police officers who would warn in advance of raids, are said to have quickly hustled patrons out of the 86 Bedford St. entrance.
During a soft opening to kick off March 17, Moniker 86 will offer a limited food and drinks menu. An official opening is planned for April 1. Once fully operational, the restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with l unchtime delivery within the MedQuarter.

"This is going to be a place where we want people to have a good time, every time," Mr. Aiels said.
Para2Crowded Closet to reopen in larger, more visible space March 25
The Crowded Closet will reopen March 25 in the former Kmart building at 851 Highway 6 E, in Iowa City, CREDIT SUSTAINABLE IOWA CITY
After 40 years tucked away at its former Gilbert Court location, the Crowded Closet is set to re-open March 25 in a high-visibility east side location near Stuff, Etc.'s new location, in what is becoming Iowa City's go-to thrifting epicenter. 

The thrift shop, run by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), will take over the former Kmart building at 851 Highway 6 E in a move that consolidates operations formerly conducted in two separate buildings.

"It's a move of less than a mile, but our visibility is increased tremendously," said  Crowded Closet Volunteer Coordinator Christine Maust Beachy, who also cited easier drop-off donation availability, improved parking, and a more aesthetically pleasing facility and layout as benefits of the move. "It solves all of those issues and helps us better serve the community and our ministry."

Crowded Closet supports the local community by sharing thousands of dollars of inventory with those in need each month, with the help of CommUnity (formerly the Crisis Center) and other service partners. Its operations are largely run by more than 250 volunteers, and help support numerous relief, development and peace projects conducted around the world by MCC.

Ms. Beachy told the CBJ that perhaps the biggest benefit of the move was the new location in the same development as Stuff, Etc.'s recently opened space.

"That proximity probably has the biggest impact on us," she said. "This area is becoming quite the marketplace for folks who love to find bargains."

Sara Sundblad, director of operations at Stuff, Etc., said the thrift chain welcomed its new neighbors.

"Competition in that regard is healthy," Ms. Sundblad said. "We're really excited about Crowded Closet being our neighbor and all of the change going on over there. They're going to do really well."

According to Sustainable Iowa City, though Crowded Closet is a thrift shop, not a recycling center, goods that are not sold can still support the shop's mission. Leftover textiles, books, and other items are sold to recyclers, and some materials can be upcycled and given new purpose. Donors can be sure that textiles given to the organization are reused or recycled in some way.

"We try to practice the best stewardship we can with the donations that come in," Ms. Beachy said in a recent Sustainable Iowa City newsletter. "Everyone donates each item assuming it has value and can be turned into money that can do good for others."
Para3 Small biz optimism still reigns despite infrastructure roadblock
Small business confidence took a hit in the first quarter of the year, but still remains strong, according to the  MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index

The score fell from 69.3 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 65.6 this quarter. Much of the fall came from attitudes toward national and local economies. During the latest quarter, optimism about the U.S. economy fell 5 points to 53 percent. Optimism about local economies fell slightly less, also to 53 percent.

That means nearly 66 percent of small business owners still have a positive outlook on their companies and the economic environment.  The survey of small business owners took place during the recent partial government shutdown, which may have affected the findings.
Despite the optimism dip, future investment and hiring plans remain stable. Twenty-seven percent of small business owners plan to increase investment in the next year, and 29 percent plan to hire more workers. Both percentages are slightly down from Q4 2018.

This quarter's index focused on infrastructure issues, finding that small businesses are concerned about roads and communications technologies.  Sixty-two percent rated local roads and bridges as average, poor or very poor quality. U.S. highways didn't rate much better. Fifty-two percent had the same opinion of them.
"We've got 70 vehicles, they're moving around throughout the day. If our workers are sitting in traffic, that's lost productivity. I'm going to pay them, but I can't bill for them,"  said James Strange, vice president of Advanced Electrical Systems in Louisville, Kentucky, in a release. "We need our people, our equipment, our tools on the job site. It's important to be able to move across the city quickly."
pitchEmotional exhaustion takes a toll on entrepreneurial ventures

Emotional exhaustion caused by role ambiguity and work-family conflicts can lead many entrepreneurs to leave or close their companies, even when the ventures are profitable, says a Ball State University researcher.
"Every founder or owner has to exit the business eventually, but the tipping point occurs when emotional exhaustion is simply too much for the individual to handle," said Michael Goldsby, executive director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Ball State, in a release, adding that "emotional exhaustion is a key predictor of exit intention among small-business owners."

"Are Work Stressors and Emotional Exhaustion Driving Exit Intentions Among Business Owners?" analyzes surveys of 400 entrepreneurs in the United States and Australia. In the U.S., role ambiguity had the largest effect on emotional exhaustion, followed by work-family conflict. In the Australian sample, the pattern was reversed.
"Many entrepreneurs start a small company and are in charge of a variety of matters," Mr. Goldsby said. "And as the firm grows, the issues expand, but the owner may not want to let go and begin delegating.  Working too many hours leads to family conflict. So does hiring a family member because they need work but simply are not qualified."
Mr. Goldsby said the results are consistent with recent research finding that work-family conflict has a stronger effect on women, who traditionally bear more family responsibilities at home, causing them to leave their businesses.  In order for entrepreneurs to avoid pitfalls, Mr. Goldsby advises them to focus on the human side of the business.
"The entrepreneur shapes the business, but the business also shapes the entrepreneur," he said. "And if the entrepreneur doesn't change as the business grows, or they aren't prepared to act differently, there's going to be a breaking point." 
Para5Consulting: Family business transitions critical to regional health
In this week's consulting spotlight, Maurie Cashman of Marion-based Agri-Management Farm Services LLC discusses succession planning for small businesses:
When it comes to envisioning a healthier region, how closely do we look at the health of the family businesses that make up our employment base?

The Great Cities Institute at the University of Chicago surveyed 363 family-owned manufacturing companies in Chicago's six collar counties. These companies employed 20-250 workers, collectively over 22,000 people. Three-quarters of the owners surveyed were over 55 years old. Half had no succession plans in place, and 62 percent had not designated a specific successor, up from 38 percent in a 1989 survey.

Twenty percent of Iowa businesses are family-owned and, according to the Small Business Administration, 78 percent of all new jobs are created by family businesses. While large companies like Kemin, Vermeer, TrueNorth and Sukup have been lauded for their ownership transition planning, that is a small portion of that 20 percent.

Now we find ourselves in a changing economy in which jobs are becoming increasingly technical, requiring higher levels of education or training. Given these foundational changes in the way companies will do business, it is more critical than ever that our family-owned companies transition to new ownerships that can adapt to new ways of doing business.

How are we doing? A survey by BEI Exit Planning Solutions, revealed the following top responses: 40 percent said they were either "too busy" or "didn't feel a sense of urgency," 37 percent said they would "act when ready," and 31 percent said they had "more pressing issues."
What can we do? Planning and interacting are the keys.
Read the full column at
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Short-Term Event Planner      

March 18
Coralville Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Louie's Wine Dive, 901 E. Second Ave., Suite 100, Coralville. This is an opportunity to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free. For more information, email .
March 19
Iowa City Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Van B's Brewing LLC, 505 E. Washington St., Iowa City. This is an opportunity to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free. For more information, email .
March 20
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee, and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more . Free. For more information, visit
BigWig Lunch Talk, by ImpactCR, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Collins Aerospace, 400 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Young professionals are invited to meet seasoned professionals and inspirational leaders during the lunch hour. Pre-registration is required. To register, visit .
North Liberty Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Zio Johno's, 780 Community Drive, Ste. 1, North Liberty. This is an opportunity to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. For more information, email .
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28
Republicans and Democrats in the statehouse are putting their weight behind a plan that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp in Iowa. This comes after the federal 2018 Farm Bill gave states authority on the issue,  expanding the legal parameters so states can produce and sell hemp. It's a type of cannabis plant that has less than 1 percent of THC, the chemical compound that makes recreational marijuana users high. It can be used for fabric, paper and biofuels. Thirty-six Republicans and Democrats signed on as cosponsors of the  bill, which would allow Iowa farmers to begin growing hemp as soon as this summer. Supporters say it's a way to boost Iowa's farm economy by adding a new cash crop. "I think it gives us more crop diversity in Iowa. It's something we've needed for quite some time," said Bruce Beeston, a lobbyist for Iowa Hemp Industries Association. "It'll take some farmers and make them profitable."
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

The weather will quiet down after a few more showers today. Rivers and streams will still experience flooding into next week. The storm that's been bringing rain to the area the last few days will move through today. It will be cloudy, mild and breezy to start with temperatures in the 40s and 50s. After noon, scattered light showers will begin to move into the area. The winds will begin to turn out of the northwest and temperatures will drop through the afternoon and bottom out near 30 Friday morning. The weather will quiet down into the weekend. High pressure will move in Friday through the weekend. It will be cloudy and breezy still Friday with temperatures in the 30s. It will be a little warmer Saturday and Sunday with temperatures in the 40s and sunshine. It will be nice and seasonal for St. Patrick's Day.