Parlor City Pub & Eatery, it's a Family Affair
Article by Ric Holmquest
Photography by Levi Zinser
When Jon Jelinek opened Parlor City Pub and Eatery on Friday March 13, 2009, he did so with one clear goal in mind, create a thriving business to one day leave in the capable hands of his family. What resulted from his great timing and all of his hard work is the shining centerpiece of the rejuvenated New Bohemia District, Parlor City Pub and Eatery.
Parlor City Pub is owned and managed by Jon, Nick and Steph Jelinek. Jon’s children, Ben, Sam and Maddie also work for the company managing the family’s numerous properties. Nick and Steph’s daughter Camilla is fourteen months old and already quite a regular at the pub. Camilla stopped by the pub for the first time on her way home from the hospital the week she was born. Steph says “with the family, we have enough people to count on. We’re all equally invested towards creating a high quality experience.”
Parlor City’s interior is eclectic and packed with memorabilia. Jon Jelinek is Czechoslovakian, a history buff, and has many interesting collectibles on display. Jelinek states “It’s the flood that did it. It’s so easy to just walk away. I felt it needed to be preserved.” Jon explains how the pub was named, “a hundred years ago Cedar Rapids was nicknamed Parlor City. It had a reputation for being so clean, nice and enjoyable.”
Steph Jelinek is Parlor City Pub’s secret weapon, always keeping everyone pointed in the right direction. Steph has a Masters Degree in Education and taught for six years. Steph tells us “It’s definitely been fun. Parlor City has offered me lots of new experiences, with something different every day. We’re keeping the family focus and making the pub a nice place to bring your kids. Cedar Rapids is a big small town, where everyone knows each others names.”
Nick advises “we’re more of a family restaurant than people think” adding “sixty percent of what we do is food.” The pub has a reputation for great food and excellent customer service. They offer unique pizza combinations and hearty sandwiches. Breakfast is served Saturday and Sunday mornings with build your own omelets, breakfast pizzas and burritos. The pub also offers a kids menu, including sundaes and root beer floats.
Parlor City offers 56 beers on tap, beer flights and sample tasting. Beer flights are small trays of four 7 ounce servings of any of the beers on tap. Once a month the pub features a tap takeover, with six taps designated by style or brewery. Steph informs, “with the tap takeovers we get craft and specialty brews that would not normally come to Iowa” adding “the Goose Island beer that we recently featured was intended for Chicago.” Nick says “The national trend is toward craft and specialty beers. We have the fourth largest selection in the state of Iowa.”
Parlor City is getting quite a reputation for their beer prices. Steph says “we want people to be able to expand their beer choices and try different beers without the sticker shock.” The extensive beer menu at Parlor City is a full four pages and includes the brews name, an accurate description with origin and awards received, alcohol by volume, IBU or bitterness range and International rating.
Parlor City also provides one of the Eastern Iowa’s best stages featuring live music five or six nights a week. The venue has excellent acoustics and features local, regional and national performing artists. The pub has a Tuesday night jam open to all performers hosted by Tom T-Bone Giblin. Nick says “we enjoy bringing in high quality live music by artists that perform original songs.”
One of Jon’s current projects involves customizing a 1974 Airstream touring coach. The luxury recreational vehicle is parked in the pub’s beer garden, with plans including serving beer and hosting private parties. The pub’s beer garden has a bicycle repair station, cool mist spray system for those hot Iowa summer days and a portable outdoor stage is in the works. Jon explains “we put in what we like at home. We’re still evolving and always reinvesting. Parlor City is a family oriented place that late at night becomes a party!”