A mainstay in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village is reopening tomorrow.
Al’s Red Frog got swamped by eight feet of water in June. Deb Anson brought the flood-ravaged bar and restaurant from her brother this fall and took on $200,000 in debt to rebuild.
"You know what? The phone’s been ringing off the wall," she says, adding callers repeatedly ask: "Are you open yet? That’s a good sign."
Anson had managed the bar for 27 years before buying it outright this fall. The Czech Village businesses that’ve been reopening are a mix of newcomers and familiar names, like Al’s Red Frog. "There are some vacant buildings down here, but it’s only been six months and it’s going to be awhile," Anson says. "You can’t expect it to happen overnight. You’d like it to, but it’s not going to."
Two other locally-owned businesses in Cedar Rapids will close at the end of the year — because of the economy. "Store Closing" signs are posted at Interior Elements, a design store two women opened about three years ago, and at John Wilson Sports which just a few doors down in the same Cedar Rapids strip mall.
The Wilson family has owned the store for nearly 65 years. Pete Wilson and his sister have been running it for decades. "Thirty years, roughly," he says, "except the years when you help out as a kid."
A combination of things prompted Wilson and his sister to close the store, but he says the biggest factor is the economy.