Popoli Ristorante, a jewel box bank turned restaurant

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Living near Springfield, Illinois I have long been a Frank Lloyd Wright fan and as a Wright fan, I am also a Louis Sullivan, Wright’s mentor fan as well.  Louis designed a series of banks called Jewel Box banks across the Midwest.  With the lovely stained glass windows they have a jewel box affect.

Popli’s Ristorante is a former Jewel Box restaurant located on 101 3rd Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids.  On a recent trip to the city to write about art Jennifer Pickar of Go Cedar Rapids had suggested dining at this lovely spot.  We stopped and split a wonderful pizza and had a craft beer.  While the food was delicious, a large part of our enjoyment was the beautiful setting.

The website shares information about the history of Popli’s. “Sullivan, who was born in 1856, was considered by many as the “father of Skyscrapers” and the “father of modernism.”  He was a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright and received many recognitions for his buildings.  Following the tough economic times in the late 1800’s, Sullivan obtained a few commissions for Midwest banks, with the People’s Savings Bank as one.  The bank remained the People’s Savings Bank until 1989 when Norwest purchased the building.  Then a few years later Wells Fargo got control of the building and changed the name again.  The bank was restored in 1991 by Chicago architect Wilbert Hasbrouck.  This ten month, $1.4 million restoration removed an addition of a dropped ceiling that shielded Sullivan’s glass windows of the original 1912 building.  Since Sullivan’s passing in 1924, many of Sullivan’s buildings have been lost to fire, natural disasters or demolition.   The Wells Fargo Bank was almost added to that list in 2008 when Cedar Rapids experienced a severe flood. The building was named to the Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2012.  In December of 2012, GRR-DTE, LLC purchased the building and went through the legalities of how to preserve the building and create a restaurant.

popoli

By fall of 2013, plans for Popoli Ristorante and Sullivan’s Bar were in the beginning stages.

Today some of the highlights of the restaurant besides the wonderful Italian cuisine and craft beers is the amenities like the great service and the fun vault room which offers seating for up to eight people.  If in the city, consider this historic place that fits the bill on all levels! Log onto  for more information at http://popolicr.com/.

Note: This meal was comped as part of my press trip to Cedar Rapids.

2 Comments


  1. //

    Amazing steak, coupled with Guinness on tap, awesome staff, and a lot really cool ambiance. The restaurant is an old bank building and listed in the historical places registrar. During the flood the bank was half underwater. Our group had dinner in the vault and got a tour of the safe deposit box vault which has been converted into the wine cellar. Would definitely come back and would recommend this as a first choice for any out of town traveler.

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