Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Stevie C’s secret garden of Grimes


Stevie C’s owner, Brandon Cavanaugh, turned his dad’s old pub into a tropical oasis by adding an outdoor bar and patio that puts the “garden” in beer garden.

Stevie C’s owner, Brandon Cavanaugh, turned his dad’s old pub into a tropical oasis by adding an outdoor bar and patio that puts the “garden” in beer garden.

Most people remember that iconic moment when Dorothy awakes after a violent tornado had whisked her and Toto, house and all, to the land of Oz; when she opened up the front door to find her drab, black-and-white reality surrounded by the color and energy of all that lives over the rainbow. That’s what I’m reminded of when I walk out the door of Stevie C’s in search of the back patio.

“We call this our oasis,” beamed owner/manager/bartender/and apparent landscape architect Brandon Cavanaugh, his arms outstretched as much as his grin, palms up to catch the mist floating down from the cooling unit he had devised. How fitting to install a water mister along the pillars and overhead beams of the back patio bar for 90-degree days such as these.

The outback bar is usually opened only on the weekends and the occasional Thursday, when business calls for it. But on any given day or night, the colorful patio tables and chairs surrounded by a diverse plant and flower population make for a fine retreat for conversation with friends or alone with a good book. It’s peaceful and enclosed by a dark, wood privacy fence and a running statue fountain. A grill in one corner and smoker in the other only adds to the vicarious feel that you’re in your own backyard. At home.

It’s a far cry from what used to be out that back door for the past 20-plus years, when Brandon’s father owned the place.

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“It was mostly crab grass and this broken, old sidewalk,” Brandon said, pointing to the concrete remnants carefully tucked behind an air conditioner unit.

There was no privacy fence, no tables and chairs, surely no fountain or mister and definitely no second bar to accommodate the patio-dwellers. There was no patio. Up until last winter, when Brandon went from being a managing employee to owner, most of the fun and the drinking was confined to the indoors where all the bar staples are provided: two pool tables, gambling games and a juke box. The traditional bar food menu also includes a proud cracker-crust pizza cooked in a brick oven, according to Brandon. But that’s nothing new at Stevie C’s, which has long been known by locals for its stellar pizza — a secret the regulars are admittedly reluctant to share with the rest of the Des Moines metro.

While a lot of things have changed outside, inside is where the authenticity of the “dive bar” has been retained — random décor on the walls, including a horse saddle, a painting of a hiding Mona Lisa and bumper stickers and signs stating smartass, silly or downright inappropriate expressions that could keep a solo drinker occupied all night, roaming from wall to wall, sipping a cocktail between chuckles.

“Go to heaven for the climate; go to hell for the company.”

“Ever wonder how long it takes for a giraffe to puke?”

And my personal favorite: “If you can’t say something nice, say something witty and sarcastic.” So true.

No, Dorothy, it’s not Kansas. It’s Grimes. CV

Stevie C’s
204 S.E. Main St.
(515) 986-9004
HOURS: 11 a.m.-close 365 days a year
HAPPY HOUR: 5-7 p.m. every day
KITCHEN: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
ENTERTAINMENT: Live music on the patio every Friday night


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