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More fuel for ‘hot’ East Village


Des Moines’ East Village has been burgeoning in recent years, and now the owners of a new bar and restaurant and a relocated live music venue hope their businesses will contribute to the district’s growing nightlife appeal.

“Our mission is to assist in the creation of a thriving, attractive retail, residential and entertainment neighborhood, and this takes us one step closer to that,” said Kit Curran, president of Historic East Village Inc.

The House of Bricks, currently located at 3839 Merle Hay Rd., will relocate to 525 E. Grand Ave. in the coming weeks, and brothers Kevin and Brian Dubay will soon open The Continental, a bar and restaurant, at 428 E. Locust.

“There are already nice places to eat, there’s retail going on, and all of this is glomming together to make for a good package,” said J.C. Wilson, co-owner of The House of Bricks. “I think (the East Village) is hotter today than it was a year ago, and I think it will be even hotter next year.”

Des Moines native Kevin Dubay believed the East Village would be the perfect setting for The Continental, a bar and restaurant he’d been dreaming of for years. He quit his job as an art instructor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City nearly one year ago and made his dream a reality.

“This is the next hot spot in Des Moines,” he said. “There are all kinds of living spaces going up right down the street. It just seemed like the right time for this area.”

The Continental, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, will feature about 50 bottled beers, various brands of scotch and a full menu, which Dubay described as an Americanized version of tapas, Spanish appetizers generally served with beer or sherris. His brother, Brian, will serve as the head chef.

The two men have spent the last month and a half renovating the space at 428 E. Locust St., and expect to open April 8. Dubay has been able to infuse some of his own artistic influence into the restaurant.

“I’ve been away from Des Moines and lived in larger cities and I’m sort of taking my favorite places from around the country and combining them into one thing to bring back to Des Moines,” Dubay said.

He’s taken hints from places such as the Velvet Dog in Kansas City, Mo., with its “throwback, retro feel.” He’s tried to create a similar environment in The Continental, complete with retro-style light fixtures that he’s purchased on eBay, gilded mirrors and works by local artists. The deep reds and other warm colors will create a cozy environment, he said.

“It has that downtown feel – long and narrow, high ceilings, exposed brick,” Dubay said. “You can’t get anything like this in the suburbs.”

Wilson had a similar realization as The House of Bricks’ lease at 3839 Merle Hay Road was set to expire. The former Hammer Pharmacy building seemed to be a perfect spot to relocate to.

“The neighborhood’s got such a great future ahead of it, and we want to be a part of that,” he said.

The House of Bricks will close Wednesday on Merle Hay Road, its home for the past five years, and expects to reopen April 8 in the East Village, still as a live music venue, but with some noticeable changes.

“We aspire to make it more versatile when it comes to entertainment,” Wilson said. “We’re going to go all over the place here – not go away from rock, but entertain different facets a little more.”

Wilson said the new location, though similar in size to the Merle Hay Road space, is better suited for live music, and with a separate bar and restaurant area, he expects it will cater to a broad range of people, even those not interested in listening to music.

“It will still be all about live music, because that’s what built The House of Bricks,” he said.

Curran said the neighborhood is “absolutely thrilled” with the addition of The House of Bricks and The Continental. She said the two additions will contribute to a “funky and functional” neighborhood, and will also bring new clientele to the area and benefit existing businesses.

“It’s great to have a venue for nighttime entertainment,” Curran said. “And it’s something different. They’re both very unique.”

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