Ames favorite Whiskey River expands to Des Moines, bringing new look to Ingersoll landmark

Tribune and Register staff reports

Popular Ames restaurant Whiskey River is expanding once again. 

The new location on Des Moines' Ingersoll Avenue business strip, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, debuted Oct. 19 after a quick but extensive makeover, the pub's owner said.

The chain was launched in Ames in 2010 and established an outpost in Ankeny in 2016.

Des Moines' first Whiskey River branch takes the place of Teddy Maroons, which opened in late 2018 under the Orchestrate Hospitality group.

Nicki Romare, who with husband Joe founded Whiskey River, said she began talking to one of Teddy Maroon's founding partners, Kolby Jones, early this year about the switchover. Former managing partner Chris Diebel of Orchestrate bowed out and Romare is now working with Jones in the new venture.

Teddy Maroons — the name was a mashup derived from the founding partners' alma maters, Roosevelt and Dowling high schools — occupied a dramatic, contemporary space with a patio overlooking the street at 2301 Ingersoll Ave.

"The location is amazing," Romare said. But the feeling inside, she said, was "a bit stark."

She said the redo, in keeping with the theme at the other Whiskey Rivers, is "cozy, really relaxed and inviting." 

Romare said some Teddy Maroons entrees will carry over, which aren't a part of the sandwich-oriented menu at the other Whiskey River locations. That includes some sauces, salads and the popular roasted brussels sprouts.

Another holdover: Teddy Maroons' signature Moscow mule flights.

"You don't want to fix something that's not broken," Romare said. 

Whiskey River's contributions, in addition to an array of sandwiches and burgers, will include favorites from the other locations, such as the southwest Reuben and barbecue pork egg rolls, she said. Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday, with loaded bloody Marys and mimosas.

The interior of restaurant Whiskey River, previously Teddy Maroon's, is seen on Oct. 22, 2020. The Ingersoll bar and grill is to be fitted with newly painted walls, six TV screens, additional bar menu items, and a golf simulator.

She said she previously had eyed Des Moines locations for an expansion of Whiskey River, which has built a solid following in Ankeny and Ames, including a No. 1 ranking on user-generated Yelp's list of the college town's 10 best bars.

"There have been a couple of opportunities, but they didn't seem right," she said, adding that the Ingersoll location "has an amazing vibe and energy."