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Hometown Heroes enters the Grinnell restaurant ballgame

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By Abraham Teuber
teuberab@grinnell.edu

Sports fans, foodies and everyone in between will soon have one more dining option in downtown Grinnell: Hometown Heroes Sports Grill. The restaurant, which is in the building previously occupied by Lonnski’s Pub and Deli, is set to open in mid-October.

Paul Durr, chef and owner of Prairie Canary just down the street, took on the project after the closing of Lonnski’s last January. Durr had the idea of bringing a sports-themed restaurant to Grinnell for a while, and the empty storefront on Main Street presented the perfect opportunity.

“This town doesn’t have a sports-oriented eating establishment,” Durr said. “I’ve been wanting to actually do this, but it’s taken us a while longer to do it because we really want to do it right.”

In order to reinvent the space, a total renovation was done on the interior to create the sporty, gastropub-esque atmosphere Durr was looking to create for Hometown Heroes. The project was led by the Ames-based architect and Grinnell alum Arthur Baumgartner ’07.

“The most exciting part is seeing all those bits and pieces of our vision kind of come together. And we’re almost there. Just got the last 10 yards to the finish line, basically, we’ve gotta push through,” Durr said.

The menu of Hometown Heroes will look familiar to regulars of restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings. Patrons will be able to choose from the standard bar fare of burgers, wings and onion rings—but with a twist.

“The food’s gonna be really good. … We’ve got several gourmet sandwiches on the menu if you don’t just want a burger or wings. The appetizers are outstanding also.” Durr said.

The space itself will be full of TVs displaying various sporting events, as well as a cellular-based trivia service called Tap TV. While Durr is not planning on including an excess of arcade-style machines, there will be two Pop-A-Shot basketball games available for visitors to play. The restaurant will also have a private room that can be reserved for large parties or used as overflow seating.

With the recent closing of local eating establishments such as 1854 Deli, Michael’s Italian Restaurant and Lonnski’s, a sizable hole has been left in the number of restaurant options available in the lower price point range. However, Durr is hoping to provide a more affordable option to fill that gap with Hometown Heroes.

“[With Prairie Canary], we’re really kind of a niche … we really kind of cater to the College and socioeconomically in town we [service] the top 30% income level,” Durr said.

“With Hometown Heroes, we’re going to basically be able to cater to almost the entire community, for the most part, doesn’t matter if you’re working out at Jeld-Wen or you’re a college student. I think Hometown Heroes will be that kind of sweet spot for most people.”

As for the name? “Hometown Heroes” is an ode to the locals of Poweshiek County who have gone on to make their community proud. One wall of the restaurant will feature portraits of Grinnell, Brooklyn and Montezuma athletes who played their sport at a collegiate level. However, Durr doesn’t limit the definition of “hero” to athletes. He also expressed he wanted to honor local musicians like Jake Simon and Nick Wallace, as well as fallen service members and first responders.

“We’re trying to envelop everything you think a hero is.” Durr said.

Some new employees have been hired to work at Hometown Heroes, but Durr is still seeking help from those looking to work in an enthusiastic, flexible environment. The restaurant was originally anticipated to open early August, but some construction challenges have pushed back the date to the second week of October. Still, Durr assured it would be worth the wait.

“No pun intended, but I think we’re gonna hit it out of the park with this.”

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