When Eric Frantz saw a “for lease” sign outside The Rut Bar & Grill on Mount Vernon Road last year, he decided the time was right to get back into the restaurant business.
He had left the industry about a decade ago, but had never quite gotten over that decision.
“There are some people that are just lifers, they can’t get it out of their blood,” he said.
So he decided to open Edith Lucielle’s Bait Shack and Wing Depot. The eatery, next to the Lighthouse Inn on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, opened in December, about eight months after Frantz started renovating the building. He did most of the work by himself; with a background in construction and in running a home inspection business with his father, he had the necessary skills to upgrade the space.
He broke down some 300 wooden pallets and turned them into booths and tables with rescued barn wood and corrugated metal also used throughout the space. The work on the building isn’t done — Frantz hopes to turn an expanse of grass behind the building into an outdoor patio seating area with space for live music and fire pits.
Named for his grandmother Edith and his wife Lynn’s grandmother Lucielle, the restaurant is designed to be family-friendly. The “bait shack” portion of the name is in honor of a restaurant he used to frequent in Atlanta, Ga., Lulu’s Bait Shack Restaurant.
Edith Lucielle’s isn’t actually selling bait — yet. Frantz plans to turn a portion of space behind the bar into a small shop with things like bait, milk, bread, homemade pickles and Edith Lucielle’s T-shirts and hats.
“The idea is you can come here, get some night crawlers and maybe have a burger, a beer and a shot and then go fishing,” Frantz said.
He describes the menu as “American comfort food,” with classics like cheeseburgers and tenderloins alongside appetizers like fried green tomatoes, battered mozzarella and bacon-wrapped jalapenos. The signature dish in the pulled pork sandwich, made from meat prepared in a smoker behind the restaurant. A breakfast menu includes eggs, pancakes and biscuits and gravy.
The menu is small, which Frantz said is intentional.
“It’s small but focused,” he said. “We want to do what we do well.”
Above the tables, old record covers adorn the ceiling, with the records themselves tucked behind the bar next to a turntable. A fish tank sits along one wall and board games and decks of cards are scattered on tables throughout the dining room. Plates, bowls and coffee mugs are mismatched, sourced from thrift stores.
“I didn’t want to make this place cookie cutter, I just wanted to try to make everything unique,” Frantz said. “I really wanted a visual circus in here for people to absorb.”
WHERE: 6913 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
DETAILS: (319) 320-6064, baitshackfun.com