The last Sunday brunch at Dixie Quick’s “blink and you’ll miss it” location at 19th and Leavenworth felt mostly nostalgia-free. Overheard conversations focused more on movies and irritating co-workers and less on how this would be the last time people would be eating French toast with sexual chocolate in Nebraska. A father ordered his son to sit in his chair. And when a few customers were paying their bills, they said they would see the wait staff at their new location, as if the restaurant would be a few blocks away.
Todd and Mimi Buswell walked outside after breakfast and both expressed indifference at having to go to a new location for brunch.
“As long as it’s open, I’m there,” Todd Buswell said.
The restaurant is moving across the river to another state and into a building nearly twice the size of its current location, and about 100 years old. The building, at 157 W. Broadway in Council Bluffs, will also be the new home of the RNG Gallery, named after Dixie Quicks co-worker Rob Gilmer. The restaurant plans to reopen November 1, and possibly have a few dry runs for customers in mid-October.
Gilmer said their lease was up in October. Last year Gilmer and co-owner/executive chef Rene Orduna were approached by Martin Kluck, an architect at Alley Poyner Macchietto, about a space that was opening in downtown Council Bluffs. After visiting the neighborhood and the building Orduna and GIlmer decided to move.
“They (Alley Poyner Macchietto) cleaned it up, but still left it raw,” Gilmer said.
Dixie Quicks was outgrowing its Levenworth location. And after being profiled on Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” its clientele grew. Gilmer said the show’s creators warned that his restaurant would be busier after the episode’s run. He initially dismissed the warning, but soon found the restaurant booked to where people without reservations were regularly turned away.
“It was amazing … the people have been so great,” he said.
Dixie Quick’s new location will seat about 90 patrons, roughly double the size of the old place. It will feature exposed brick from the original building and an ample window view of downtown Council Bluffs.
Gilmer planned to use old yellow pages to decorate dining room tables, a departure from their previous strips of white paper, which allowed kids (and adults) to color on them, and sometimes even submit their work for an RNG Gallery display. To compensate, Gilmer had artists at Big Brain Tattoo construct a series of coloring books for diners.
The extra space at the new location will especially benefit the staff, namely Orduna. One of the first requirements Orduna wanted for the new place was a walk-in cooler, something the last location lacked. Orduna said most of the menu won’t change, meaning signature dishes like their cactus scramble, French toast, and Texas chile pepper steak will remain. But the benefit of a walk-in cooler will enhance the ability to create more vegetarian dishes. In its previous location, Orduna said he spent roughly three hours daily shopping for food for each service.
“I can now spend more time cooking,” Orduna said.
Gilmer said some customers questioned the wisdom of the move. He attributed skepticism to the longstanding stereotypes Omahans have of Council Bluffs and vice versa. However, Gilmer said business owners in downtown routinely shop in Council Bluffs because Omaha does not provide services such as major retail outlets for the eastern part of the city.
“Omaha’s losing a lot of revenue because they’re not building up downtown … and it’s hurting Omaha,” Gilmer said.
A more personal reason for the move to Council Bluffs was the legalization of same-sex marriage. Gilmer and Orduna have been together nearly 30 years, and they plan on getting married November 11.
“Iowa’s embracing us, and Nebraska keeps trying to hate us,” Gilmer said.
“I love Nebraska, the people are great, but they pass laws that make no sense.”