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Belly Up To...

A scenic view inside and out at Cityscape Lounge


Tamara VanPelt chats with happy hour patron, Ed Mattis, at the Holiday Inn’s newly-renovated bar downtown.

Tamara VanPelt chats with happy hour patron, Ed Mattis, at the Holiday Inn’s newly-renovated bar downtown.

Very few people of today’s world show enough respect to measure up to the standards of their grandparents. Many young adults prematurely presume, for example, that they are at a first-name status with their superiors at work and their elders in life. And the most seasoned in the crowd are lucky to even get a “dude” in their direction, too often overlooked and disregarded by the attention-deprived generations of today.

Tamara VanPelt, on the other hand, is old school. She’s been working for “Mr. Conley” for about 25 years as a bartender — she’s even featured in a painting that hangs on the wall depicting patrons bellied up to the bar — in the Mercy Campus Holiday Inn Lounge formerly known as Maroney’s.

“It was an Irish pub,” she said, explaining how the lounge and the restaurant were, until this year, more segregate. “Mr. Caleb (general manager Gene Caleb) had the vision of this, of the restaurant and bar as all one area, so people can socialize more.”

Renamed Cityscape Lounge, from her station behind the new marble-top bar, VanPelt has an equal view of the hotel lobby, from where guests are easily lured to a stool at her service, the restaurant dining area dubbed Genevieve’s and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allow patrons to admire the unique skyline of downtown Des Moines — the entire cityscape of buildings and infrastructure and people buzzing by, glowing under the sun by day and twinkling with lights by night.


“This is beautiful compared to the old bar,” she beamed. “Having the lobby open, so people can see us, attracts them to the bar, and the view is fabulous — especially at night.”

Sipping on her signature Snicker-tini ($9) and gazing upon the city, it doesn’t take one long to notice the convenient proximity the Holiday Inn is to the Iowa Event Center, easily picked out among the backdrop of buildings by the spaceship-shaped Wells Fargo Arena, making it an obvious temptation for future event parking ideas. And why not? Cityscape Lounge is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing, picturesque place for a pre-game cocktail, and the fact that it’s inside the Holiday Inn makes it a convenient after-party, too.

“For that Pink concert, we were packed in here, and Bon Jovi earlier this spring, too,” VanPelt recalled. “We get quite a few concert-goers in here.”

The crowd is a unique mix. As a destination hotel for travelers, Cityscape Lounge can be buzzing in one corner with energetic anticipation from newcomers preparing to explore Des Moines’ nightlife alongside a mourning loner consumed with concern over his ailing wife at the adjacent hospital.

“We get people who are having the worst day of their life mixed with people who are having the best day of their life,” VanPelt said, noting the hotel tower is a popular wedding reception hall.

“Without a doubt, this is the nicest bar in Des Moines,” a patron said to her after she served him a Canadian Club Manhattan — “an old-timer’s drink,” he said. “And I know about bars,” he continued. “I used to be in the business.”

His name was Ed Mattis, the onetime owner of Clive’s popular Wall Street and downtown’s La Pasticceria before the floods forced him to the other side of the bar, where he likes it. CV

Cityscape Lounge/Genevieve’s
Holiday Inn, Mercy Campus
1050 Sixth St.
HOURS: 3 p.m.-close Mon.-Fri.; 4 p.m.-close Sat.; 5 p.m.-close Sun.
HAPPY HOUR: 5-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
KITCHEN: 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m. daily
CAPACITY: About 100

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