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Belly Up To...

A new meaning for ‘bottoms up’ at C.J.’s II Tap



Claude Johns is the owner of CJ’s II Tap. There is no longer an original CJ’s Tap. The first C.J.’s was purchased by a government entity for development purposes and closed.

If you’re ever on the floor at C.J.’s II Tap — the bar owned by Claude Johns on East 30th Street near the Iowa State Fairgrounds —  and wondering where your life took the unhappy turn that landed you on the cool cement of this old-school tavern, do yourself a favor and avoid making eye contact with the ceiling tile above you.

See, this old tap is cozy and quaint, but it isn’t your usual establishment.

It still has a pay phone, and people use it. It has a maximum capacity of 49 and seating for far fewer. It has a new jukebox — the old one wore out from overuse. The price for a game of pool is 50 cents, the same as it was during the Nixon administration.

And then there’s the ambiance. Remember when Motel 6 used to famously claim it would always “leave the light on for ya?” Well, at C.J.’s, Johns keeps the lights off most of the time in order to keep the electricity bill in line.

Prep Iowa

“But we’ll turn them on if someone comes in,” Johns assured.


Johns even sells custom-painted, 2-foot-square ceiling tiles. A lifetime spot on his ceiling will set you back $40.

Advertisements line a few rows of ceiling tiles at C.J.’s II Tap, and one of the more unique ones is that of a tattooed rear end (left) in memory of Bill “Pops” Ladd.

Advertisements line a few rows of ceiling tiles at C.J.’s II Tap, and one of the more unique ones is that of a tattooed rear end (left) in memory of Bill “Pops” Ladd.

Most spots are purchased by small businesses like Foxy Jen’s DJ & Karaoke, Detail Plus Auto Sales or Can-do Specialist, but one in particular is an eye-catcher.

If you happen to find yourself down on the floor for whatever reason, be on the lookout amongst those ceiling tiles for “Pops.” He’s the one near the door and above the bar.

You can’t miss him. He’s a celling tile owner himself — the one showing a man in a plumber-esque sort of pose, his pants slipping to make his posterior fully visible, with two eyeball tattoos just above his rear end.

Written above the two tattoos is a memorial: “In loving memory of Bill ‘Pops’ Ladd.” Underneath is the date he was born and the date he died. CV 5-26 BELLY CJS TAP CLOSE TATTO PICWhen “Pops” passed away, Johns had the ceiling tile put in place to ensure the fine posterior would be immortalized.

“He was a friend,” Johns said.

From now on, no matter how crowded the bar gets — and it gets crazy during the Fair — “Pops” has his spot, guaranteed. Those bright eyes just below the belt line are now up in the air for eternity and on display at C.J.’s II Tap for anyone to see. It’s “bottoms up” in more ways than one. CV






C.J.’s II Tap

316 E. 30th St., 515-263-9990

Hours: Monday through Saturday,

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; closed on Sundays.

Karaoke is held every Friday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and alternating Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

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