BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A new eatery will throw open its doors just off the banks of the Mississippi River Wednesday.
River Rocks, the newest occupant of the bar and restaurant at the former Kingsley Inn, will be open starting 11 a.m. Wednesday with a sit down menu with bar food and dinner selections.
Danielle Keefe and Brett Matlick of Keokuk are the owner/operator of the eatery. Keefe said there’s an excitement in the air about something new downtown and on the east side of Fort Madison. The two also operate The Palms restaurant on the west side of town.
Matlick said he came down and saw the view out the window over the Mississippi and was hooked on the idea.
“I didn’t want to compete with The Palms so we’re not going to do steaks or seafood or anything like that, but I came down and looked out the window and said, ‘Oh man, I gotta try it. Look at that view,” Matlick said.
He said he came upon the idea after someone from the Fort Madison Lions Club mentioned the space was open.
“That was in December and here we are six weeks later ready to open.”
In addition to the bar and food, the two are adding a game room to the north end of the restaurant.
“That’s kind of a neat thing we’re adding so if parents bring the kids and the parents want to chat for a while the kids can go back there and play.”
Keefe said the menu will consist of quicker foods like burgers, chicken sandwiches, and wings but they will have some different items like the “overgrown potatoes” which are a baked potato that can be stuffed with a different variety of toppings.
“We are doing our own take on pho which is a vietnamese soup with rice noodles typically with beef or chicken. Plus it’s on the healthier side like our impossible vegan burger. It’s the first time we’ve tried anything like this,” she said.
She said the menu will be changed up frequently.
“We can always add things to it later. It’s nothing to change these menus up. I want to do some combos with a soup/salad or other combinations like that for lunch,” Keefe said.
Matlick said the east side of the restaurant will be more of a sports bar feel, while the west side will be the sitdown restaurant.
The bar will be fully stocked with six draught beers with four dedicated to local Iowa craft beers. The other three will have regular domestic pilsners.
Initially, River Rocks will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Keefe said they want to react to the business flow and the hours may change at some point.
Happy hour is from 3 to 5 p.m. with drink specials.
A ribbon cutting has been set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 15. The event will be a joint ribbon-cutting with the new Kingsley Inn BNB style hotel that is also close to opening on the other side of the building.
She said staff will probably be 15 to 16 people including hostesses and kitchen staff. The restaurant will also offer catering, private parties and take out orders.