Opening a small business is hard. Doing it twice in under three years takes a small miracle.
Daniel Dickel, owner of new Coralville restaurant Guild Wurst Tavern, had tears in his eyes as he talked about all the family and friends who contributed to his miracle, not once but twice, helping him open his new eatery on July 26, just over a year since he was forced to close the Bar’ber Shop Tavern just down the road.
That restaurant was next to Clear Creek in a building the city bought and razed last year as part of flood mitigation plans. Dickel and other tenants received a payout from the city to compensate for moving costs, but the full cost of lost revenue in the interim before reopening and renovations to make the new space restaurant ready were significant, Dickel said. That was after spending months renovating the Bar’ber Shop, which was open for less than a year before it closed in June 2016.
“It was a testament to perseverance. To make the Bar’ber Shop happen, I basically called out every favor I could. Every single person helped again,” Dickel said. “Especially my dad, Dan Dickel. I’m still learning from him. He’s teaching me perseverance.”
Most of the Bar’ber Shop staff came back to work at Guild Wurst, and chef James Kinkade stepped up into the role of co-owner, along with Dickel and his wife, Kara. They decided to re-imagine what the restaurant could be.
“We didn’t want to keep the name. It just felt like that was the past. We’re starting from scratch, literally and figuratively,” Dickel said. “We said, let’s create a new menu with a new concept.”
Inspired by a sausage eatery in Los Angeles, Kinkade wanted a place where he could serve up house-made sausages, burgers, sides and desserts.
The sausages — the wurst — are the star of the menu. Although wursts are traditionally German sausages, the offerings at Guild Wurst have global influences and flavors, from a jerk sausage topped with grilled pineapple and sweet peppers to Spanish chorizo. Packaged sausages also are available to go.
The “Guild” portion of the name is meant to evoke the dedication, Dickel said.
“A guild is a group of artisans who care about quality and craftsmanship, and it’s also a space for gatherings of artisans,” he said.
He hopes artisanship comes through, from the food to the local art for sale on the walls to the furniture, much of it handcrafted by family and friends. The building used to be an auto and muffler shop, and its rolling garage door still opens.
Stage two of the business will be opening Boot ’n Flute Brewery in the back half of the building; Dickel is waiting on permits.
Kinkade previously worked at Van Houzen Brewing Co. and will bring his own recipes to the venture.
While the last year was hard, Dickel said he has high hopes for what comes next.
“I think the future looks bright,” he said.