RAGBRAI 2013 brought a swarm of people right to the door of the Riverwalk Hub, a newly opened downtown concessions stop that aims to cater to area cyclists.
The building, conceived years ago by the city, recently opened this month with Michael LaValle at the helm, a well-known Des Moines chef with places like The Embassy Club and Centro on his résumé.
The space’s chalkboard menu, topped with a bike wheel, offered an array of locally sourced items to RAGBRAI riders Tuesday with breads from South Union Bakery, meats from La Quercia and cheese from Maytag Dairy Farms.
The foods, like the many bicycles LaValle hopes to attract off nearby Des Moines trails, are “quick and portable,” he said. “We want to be kind of the nexus for folks in downtown Des Moines.”
Riders trickled more slowly into Des Moines than expected by Tuesday afternoon, but LaValle saw a busy night ahead. Workers eventually had to usher a packed crowd out of the building’s riverside deck to make way for a VIP event that night.
A long plaza outside the Hub’s building also featured Iowa foods and beverages, part of LaValle’s vision for the space. Drinks flowed from Madhouse Brewing Company and Jasper Winery. HoQ, an East Village restaurant, rented a food cart from the space to peddle exclusively local fare.
“We decided to sell pork, a signature of Iowa,” co-owner Cynthia Hoque said. The restaurant also offered salads.
Cynthia Hoque and her husband, Suman Hoque, plan to operate the riverwalk cart there in the future. It was the only thing keeping them off their bikes Tuesday.
“We’re going to ride tomorrow,” Cynthia said. “We wanted to ride today but we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll work I guess!’”
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