With crispy fried rooster, savory meatloaf, ice-cold candy tea and large copper mugs of Moscow mules, a brand new restaurant and bar with a Southern consolation meals vibe opened in downtown Ames late final month.
Proprietors Nicki and Joe Romare quietly opened Sweet Caroline’s Kitchen & Cocktails, at 316 Important St., comfortably easing into the move of the enterprise.
The couple owns different companies round central Iowa, too, together with three Whiskey River places.
“We modeled this location most just like the vibe and really feel of our Whiskey River in Ankeny,” Nicki Romare mentioned. “We’ve got an enormous dinner — after which we begin partying. We go straight into it — flip the lights down and the music up, after which we celebration.”
The Ames Tribune sat down with Romare on Thursday to study extra about Candy Caroline’s.
“We simply wished to supply some homestyle consolation meals,” she mentioned. “We felt like that wouldn’t strongly compete with anything that’s already in Ames.
“We wished that Nashville sort of vibe in the entire place — that sort of feeling.”
The menu is filled with comforting meals, she mentioned, like fried rooster and meatloaf that’s topped with barbecue sauce and that is “higher than Grandma made.”
“These two issues have been the preferred thus far, for positive,” Romare mentioned. “Individuals are additionally loving the fried catfish and the Cajun ribeye sandwich.”
The key to the scrumptious rooster is a “tremendous costly rooster fryer,” she mentioned with fun. “It’s all about stress and time, and this piece of apparatus has all of that zeroed in.”
The sandwich and burger part of the menu features a Shrimp PoBoy, a Poutine Burger, an Alabama French Onion Burger and a Pimento Pub Burger.
“All of our sides are good, too. All the pieces is made in-house,” Romare mentioned. “Our pasta salad, our potato salad — all the things is made in-house. All of our sauces, our barbecue sauce, our Comeback Sauce — all made in-house.”
The Comeback Sauce is featured on gadgets just like the Cajun Ribeye Sandwich, and it may also be ordered to accompany any meal.
“Caroline’s Comeback Sauce is our model of an enormous Southern factor that’s mainly a mixture of mayo and ketchup and an entire bunch of spices and seasonings,” Romare mentioned. “It’s actually good things that simply makes you need to hold coming again for extra.”
Snacks on the menu embrace hushpuppies, deviled eggs, fried pickles and a pimento cheese plate that features crackers, bread-and-butter pickles and maple bacon together with the Southern staple of pimento cheese.
“The menu makes everybody really feel like, ‘Yep, that’s what I need — some good outdated consolation meals,’” she mentioned.
Different highlights on the menu embrace an providing of 16 “farm contemporary sides,” like crimson beans and rice, black-eyed pea salad, sliced cucumber salad, applesauce and mashed potatoes. There’s a collection of eight shakes, too, with names like Nanner Puddin, Birthday Cake, Entrance Porch Shake and Oreo Fluff.
Candy Caroline’s is a constructing reworked, with a nod to Ames’ historical past
The Romares reworked the house, which was previously dwelling to the Olde Important Brewing Firm. They opened up the restaurant and bar, leaving a small higher degree, and created an area on the west facet for a personal banquet corridor.
Massive, uncovered brick partitions on the east and west sides of the enterprise present classic promoting murals that had been painted on the outside of the adjoining companies previous to the development of the constructing at 316 Important.
An L-shaped bar on the north finish of the seating space overlooks the patio, which was constructed the place Olde Important had its brewing gear.
“We weren’t fascinated with brewing our personal beer,” Romare mentioned. “However we had been actually excited to have a patio, so we turned that house into slightly courtyard. That’s sort of a Tennessee factor, too. When you’ve ever been to Beale Road in Memphis, the place a few of the buildings are gone after which that’s changed into a courtyard, this our model of that — with out having to tear down a constructing.”
Located close to the bar alongside the wall within the eating room is a big cage that shops and shows Candy Caroline’s liquor assortment in a manner different locations may show artwork.
“It truly is a pleasant assortment. Why not show it? It’s so cool,” Romare mentioned.
Candy Caroline’s is a sister location to Whiskey River
Joe and Nicki Romare have a number of restaurant and bar places in central Iowa. They’ve owned Whiskey River on Important Road in Ames for 10 years, the Founders Irish Pub in Bondurant for eight years, the Whiskey River in Ankeny for about six years and opened the Whiskey River simply west of downtown Des Moines a few years in the past.
“We began the undertaking for Candy Caroline’s virtually three years in the past,” Romare mentioned. “We had been able to open in Might of 2020, which was straight in the course of the onerous shutdown.”
It took a yr and a half from there to truly open, however the couple felt strongly that they didn’t need to open beneath any COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was onerous sufficient to handle these restrictions, and it was onerous sufficient to open a brand new restaurant. We weren’t going to mix the 2,” she mentioned.
In order that they put the opening on pause for a short while, after which paused a short while longer resulting from staffing shortages, she mentioned. They’re nonetheless searching for staff, particularly back-of-house employees.
A scarcity of employees is maintaining the Romares from having Candy Caroline’s totally open even now. In the meanwhile, they’re open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., with the kitchen closing at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. Their purpose is to open every day at 11 a.m. Keep watch over their Facebook page to see when these hours change.
The identify Candy Caroline’s is a nod to Iowa State’s celebration music, Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit.
“If you understand, you understand,” Romare mentioned. “And when you don’t know, it’s nonetheless a cool identify.”
A thread that runs by the Romares’ companies is the flannel shirts which can be custom-made for every model. Candy Caroline’s joins Founders and Whiskey River in having its personal line of flannel shirts, which Romare buys at thrift shops, repurposes and customizes. So the shirts are already snug when clients purchase them, and each is completely different.
“We promote a lot merchandise — it’s loopy,” Romare mentioned of the Iowa State connection. “The purchasers simply love these shirts, and our staff love them, too.”
Candy Caroline’s partitions have historical past
The uncovered brick partitions that give Candy Caroline’s a lot character in such an enormous manner have an fascinating historical past in downtown Ames.
When the City Middle constructing and the constructing at 314 Important St. had been constructed, there was no constructing the place Candy Caroline’s is now. The brick partitions that at the moment are the inside partitions of the restaurant and banquet corridor had been then simply the outside partitions of these two adjoining buildings.
Massive commercials had been painted on the brick.
City Middle’s exterior contains a Butter-Nut Bread advert, a product that was made in Ames and was well-liked with many households.
See an advert for the bread that ran within the Ames Night Instances in 1913 here.
“The City Middle constructing that it’s painted on, so far as I do know, was by no means a bakery or grocery retailer,” Alex Fejfar, displays supervisor on the Ames Historical past Museum, mentioned. “It was constructed as an auto storage in 1913 and remained an car storage till JCPenney moved in from 1930-1971. It’s attainable that the Bates Bakery on Duff Avenue, which made Butter-Nut Bread, obtained the promoting house, however a few grocery shops on the town carried that model for them, additionally.”
Henry George was a nationwide cigar model, and the east wall of Candy Caroline’s is graced with a mural commercial for it.
See an article, “A New Tie for George,” in regards to the mural here.
On the time the advert was painted, the enterprise at 314 Important was owned by George Roberson.
“George Roberson was a Danish gunsmith and the very best machinist within the space,” Fejfar mentioned. “He did slightly little bit of all the things. … He’s identified for creating the primary bathtub and lawnmower on the town. He additionally created the primary combustion engine in Story County, making all the components by hand. All of his sons went into the brand new car trade.”