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Belly Up To...

Benchwarmers is a Cyclone bar and more


Benchwarmers has become an Ankeny staple, offering many Iowa State University alumni a familiar resting spot to belly up for the game.

Benchwarmers has become an Ankeny staple, offering many Iowa State University alumni a familiar resting spot to belly up for the game.

It’s good to, as they say, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Upon surveying the outside of a small, dark joint on Ankeny Boulevard, I wasn’t sure if I’d be eating some great bar food or just eating my words. Fortunately, my curious nature paid off and was rewarded with an energetic and attractive atmosphere and Wednesday night’s special of $3 Captain and Bacardi and a never-ending ’90s jukebox playlist.

If you’re looking for exceptional after-work drink specials, step up to the plate, and take a crack at Ankeny’s oldest local sports bar. Established in 1991, Benchwarmers Bar and Grill has seen several facelifts in its time. It has existed in its latest incarnation since 2011, and the owners are working hard to keep old memories alive with classic Iowa State and Ankeny wall ornaments.

“The reason we have all of this classic memorabilia is to keep the feel of the original Benchwarmers,” explained a young and bubbly server named Cortney Maly. “It makes customers feel at home,” even though patrons are of all different types.

“Benchwarmers is one of those places where you don’t feel like you have to be grouped into the category of ‘only 20’ or ‘over 40.’ I can meet my friends here after work and hang out with my mom for a snack all in one night without feeling weird,” Maly said.

Prep Iowa

While the regulars are typically there for the sports, Maly said the bar is stomping grounds for many because of drink prices, specials and live music.

Tuesday nights draws droves of karaoke regulars, all vying for money prizes. Fridays are popular for college students and music fanatics. An everyday burger and beer combo beckons to just about anyone — from dining families to dating couples to drinking buddies. No doubt, though, one of Benchwarmers’ biggest draws, however, is in the name. Sports. Particularly Cyclone ball.

“We recently added a new private room just for March Madness,” Maly offered.

With a menu including specialties such as the “Paul Rhoads Pizza,” it is clear that Benchwarmers is an ISU bar at heart. Fans or not, patrons can nosh a “Fred Hoiberger.” The Mayor’s namesake patty will not disappoint. If he hasn’t, the coach should definitely give it a try. CV               

Chris Kelley is a graduate of Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University and offers occasional articles for Cityview.

705 S. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny
HOURS: 11 a.m.–2 a.m., daily
KITCHEN: 11 a.m.–2 a.m., daily
HAPPY HOUR: 3–6 p.m. Monday-Friday
CAPACITY: 175 (plus a recently added private room recently for March Madness)
ENTERTAINMENT: Karaoke every Tuesday, live music every Friday.


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