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Posted July 06, 2016in Belly Up

Not part of the plan

    Jim Besler didn’t plan on owning The Thirsty Sportsman — in fact, he never planned on owning any bar. “I thought I was going to go to work in an office every day,” he said. But that’s not how it worked out. Instead, Besler, who studied accounting in

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Posted June 29, 2016in Belly Up

Locust Tap — an old-school bar since 1933

  In 1937, two packs of cigarettes cost about a quarter, America was in the depths of a depression, and the prohibition banning alcohol had only recently ended in 1933. It was also a year a small East Village pub opened its doors to the public for the first time,

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Posted June 22, 2016in Belly Up

Della Viti — ‘Froyo’ for adults

    “The building you are in has a great history.” That’s the first line in the narrative that explains what’s happened in this building, which now houses Della Viti, Des Moines’ first self-service wine dispensary. The bar is in the East Village at 425 E. Grand Ave., but the

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Posted June 15, 2016in Belly Up

The draw of GoodSons

    There are times when you just need to chill. And a good place to chill is at Goodson’s in Beaverdale. “It’s a real mellow place,” says a bartender who goes by Tennessee Chris. “Everybody’s just hanging out, listening to the jukebox.” The calm is helped by the chalkboard

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Posted June 08, 2016in Belly Up

Grandma’s Place

Over the Des Moines River and through the… southside beer suds? That’s the way to grandmother’s house we go? If you leave downtown and you’re entering the city’s south side on Indianola Avenue, you’ll see a sign for a place named Club 2000 Bar & Grill. Many might assume the

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Posted June 01, 2016in Belly Up

Not homicidal at Andy’s Place

“Did you know that one out of 25 people have no conscience?” Rebecca Anderson is pouring a drink behind the bar she owns and operates, Andy’s Place. She’s discussing the perils of sociopaths in society with her regulars. Anderson knows them all well, but they don’t know one another, so

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Posted May 25, 2016in Belly Up

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

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

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Posted May 18, 2016in Belly Up

Jelly beans, grandfather clocks and German castles

  What do jellybeans, grandfather clocks and German castles have in common? A lady sitting at Des Moines’ east side Maingate Bar knows. Chrystal Smith alternates between sips from of a glass of Southern Comfort on her left and a Coca-Cola she keeps on her right. She’s brought in a

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Posted May 11, 2016in Belly Up

Noce couples first-class jazz with classic-style cocktails

It’s Tuesday night at Des Moines’ hopping jazz joint, Noce. The three-piece band on stage mixes a cello’s deep bass with the sound of a brass horn and a piano.The dimly-lit ambiance pulses with energy. The music’s volume is low enough for conversation, but loud enough you can still feel

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Posted May 04, 2016in Belly Up

Crown warfare

    Flash back to 2009. It’s fourth and goal. The Iowa Hawkeye football team is down four points with two seconds left. The team has won 11 straight games going back to the previous season, but its unbeaten streak is on the line as they line up for one

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