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The Gramercy Tap has it all


The Gramercy Tap (viewed from inside) is poised for popularity as Walnut Street is redesigned to better fit pedestrian traffic.

The Gramercy Tap (viewed from inside) is poised for popularity as Walnut Street is redesigned to better fit pedestrian traffic.

They say it’s important in life to “stop and smell the roses.” From our passing cars, we too often overlook the charms of the city streetscape — the tiny but significant details that give a community its identity. So, when exploring a city’s core, it’s best to park the car. That’s why the City of Des Moines, Operation Downtown and the Downtown Community Alliance has devised a plan to slow things down a bit along Walnut Street, and places like the Gramercy Tap are ready to be noticed.

“That was the main point to Gramercy Tap,” explained general manager Nick Barsetti. The bar/restaurant recently underwent a new branding from its former Kirkwood Lounge. The city’s plans to transform the once metro bus-only roadway into a more pedestrian-friendly corridor to eat, drink and shop has The Gramercy Tap destined for popularity.

“Now there’s parking on Walnut Street, and I hear there’s going to be a canopy, a strip mall, a movie theater,” Barsetti said. “I was told construction should start sometime next year. We can’t wait.”

But patrons shouldn’t wait either, because The Gramercy Tap has an appeal all its own. A few weeks ago, it added a lunch menu to its offerings, and to go with it, a new patio was built this week. It seats about 30-40, spanning the length of the building along the Walnut Street sidewalk.


The Gramercy takes up the entire ground floor of a historic landmark building with its restaurant and bar, plus a bar room and lobby for special occasions and private parties. The first thing I noticed upon entering was the space. The main room offers enough square-footage for a selection of seating, including booths, tables, high-tops and bar.

Adding to the feeling of space, the high ceilings allow acoustics to fill the room on the occasional Saturday nights featuring live music after dinner. Dripping with light fixtures that look literally like desk lamps, the building’s infrastructure is not only exposed but flaunted. It’s obvious the owners appreciate the authentic architecture of the building. A happy harmony of old and new exists between the walls — contemporary mixed with vintage.

The same is true for the people.

“All types of people come here — a collage of young and old,” Barsetti explained. “Especially on nights when the Civic Center has a show. We’re expecting to be pretty busy with ‘Jersey Boys’ coming up.”

Even more important, though — than its patrons, its location or the unique and thoughtful drink and food menus — is the hospitality I’ve observed with every visit. They’re nice at The Gramercy — genuinely nice, thoughtful and good humored. The manager was humble and polite, and the waitress felt like an old friend.

I love a good bar with a vast selection of beer, wine and liquor, and Gramercy has that. I love an inventive drink menu that changes with the seasons, especially one that makes room for the local flavors, such as Confluence and Peace Tree beers (both on tap). Gramercy has that, too. But mostly I like good people. The Gramercy Tap has it all. CV


400 Walnut St.
HOURS: Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-close;
Sat. 5 p.m.-close
HAPPY HOUR: Tues.-Fri. 4-6 p.m.
KITCHEN: Tues.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.;
Fri. 11 a.m.-close; Sat. 5 p.m.-close
ENTERTAINMENT: Live music on occasional Saturday nights
CAPACITY: 180 main room, plus 300 in bar room and lobby and 40 on the patio


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