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Prairie Canary under new ownership

New Prairie Canary owner Chef Paul Durr poses by the restaurant bar. Photo by Joanna Silverman.
New Prairie Canary owner Chef Paul Durr poses by the restaurant bar. Photo by Joanna Silverman.

Grinnell resident Chef Paul Durr is now the new manager and owner of Prairie Canary Restaurant and Bar, located on 924 Main Street.

The turnover of management became official over the summer, but Durr had been communicating with Chamber of Commerce President Angela Harrington since May. 

Durr plans to keep the theme and flavors of Prairie Canary the same, continuing to emphasize local flavors and talent while maintaining a Midwestern menu focused on fresh produce. 

However, under his management, Durr hopes to offer more pricing specials as well as expand Prairie Canary’s menu options. Prairie Canary may soon have drink specials, student specials and more gluten-free and vegan options. 

“You might also start to see more Asian foods on the menu in the specials, because I’m half-Vietnamese,” Durr said. 

As for the atmosphere, Durr wants to keep the arrangement of the main-level restaurant the same, but he plans to move the bar upstairs. 

He also plans to add a lounge area downstairs and has already brought in new furniture and a television. 

“We hope to make this a student-friendly space,” Durr said. “[Students] can come down here, watch TV, grab a drink.”

Durr has operated restaurants in Grinnell before. Until 2005, he owned Depot Crossing Restaurant, located on 1014 3rd Avenue. The restaurant has since changed owners and is now operated as The Peppertree at the Depot Crossing. He “got out” of his Depot Crossing management to devote more time to his young children, who have since grown up. 

Prairie Canary workers are content with the new management, and optimistic for how Durr’s new changes will affect the atmosphere of the restaurant.

In an email interview with the Scarlet and Black, current employee Sharon Tan ’14 wrote, “I feel pretty good about the changes to Prairie. I think Paul is really trying to be more accommodating to both students, professors, and the townspeople.”

She added, “The changes have been beneficial to both staff and guests, which I think is the most important part. We are going to have a new happy hour that is really affordable, as well as live music opportunities for students such as an Open Mic Night.” 

Grinnell’s Chamber of Commerce, which oversees businesses in Grinnell, played a role in the turnover of management.

“[The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce] facilitated the entire succession,” said Harrington. “From putting resources together to reaching out to prospective new owners to analyzing the business financials, we connected the dots to make it happen.”

Durr expects his new ownership of Prairie Canary to have a minimal effect on the local economy. 

“I think business is pretty steady for the most part, [it] just kind of goes with the season [and] weighs on how the local economy is doing,” Durr said. “Things slow down during the summer when the College is not in session.”

Grinnell may also see another business managed by Durr in the future. Harrington and Durr have discussed having a sports bar in town, but according to Durr, “those plans are far on the horizon.”

For more information regarding Prairie Canary’s menu, please visit or call (641) 236-0205.


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    Sam WalkerSep 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Hasn’t he ran a couple quality restaurants into the ground before? He used to own the Pepper Tree and trashed it. Luckily, someone bought it off of him and really turned it around. The owner reputation of this man is unreliable.