Stepping into The Map Room, a new pub in downtown Cedar Rapids, is a little like stepping into the pages of an atlas — maps from around the world line the walls.
“We traveled a lot, and we were always picking up maps wherever we went. We joked we would put them in ‘the map room’ someday,” said owner Christina Springman, who opened the bar and restaurant with her husband, Mitch Springman.
Instead of creating that room in their house, they decided to share their maps with the public, alongside servings of homemade pub food and signature cocktails. Together, the decor and the menu are meant to provide a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.
“We wanted a spot that would inspire people to talk about their travels,” Christina Springman said.
The food also comes with a globe-trotting aesthetic. The kitchen is small, about 4 feet wide, so they had to keep the menu focused; chef Quincey Sproston mainly serves burgers, along with a selection of loaded fries and crostinis.
Each burger focuses on a different global city, with a flavor profile and toppings inspired by that area’s cuisine. The Delhi burger, for example, is topped with paneer, garam masala and mint chutney, while the New Orleans burger is topped with mortadella, ham, salami, mozzarella, provolone and spicy olive relish. Others include the Marrakesh, Seoul, Memphis and Napoli burgers.
“We tried to hit every continent with the menu,” Springman said. “We just had to figure out how to put them on a burger.”
The drink menu, meanwhile, features beer and wine alongside craft cocktails like the La Mure, which includes blackberry brandy, fresh lemon juice and sparkling wine, or the Porch Life, with gin, Domaine de Canton ginger and house-made strawberry lemonade.
“We went for light, refreshing summer drinks,” Springman said. “I want this to be a comfortable tavern. I don’t want it to be pretentious by any means.”
Both of the Springmans have a restaurant industry background. Christina Springman most recently managed the Black Sheep Social Club, and Mitch Springman manages The Lucky Penny in Hiawatha.
Black Sheep Social Club owner Graig Cone gave them the loan to get started with The Map Room. When Stellas closed during the 2016 flood and didn’t reopen, Springman got in touch with building owner Kory Nanke with her business proposal. After some remodeling, The Map Room opened June 30.
Springman said the small downtown bar has always appealed to her, nestled among much taller buildings. Along with the snug indoor seating, she plans to open patio seating this week.
“Everything else is so big and towering. It’s a tiny little respite,” she said. “I like the size of it. I can talk to everyone in here. It’s nice and cozy.”
— Alison Gowans,
WHAT: The Map Room
WHERE: 416 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
DETAILS: (319) 362-0417, facebook.com/maproomcr