Riley's Cafe on Center Point Will Close, New Location to Open Nearby

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Riley's Cafe on Center Point Road NE will relocate to a new spot nearby as the neighboring Wendy's fast-food restaurant moves forward on plans to rebuild.

Riley's co-owner Phil Pankey said the restaurant at 4242 Center Point Rd. NE will close, and the new location at 2010 Sylvia Lane NE, Suite A, will open within the next 60 days. Work to remodel the new site will start Monday.

Pankey hopes there will be only about a week of downtime.

Pankey and his father, Richard Pankey, own four Riley's locations, Butcher Block Steakhouse and the Dairy Queen in Fairfax. In all, the operation employs about 130 people.

"We didn't want to lose it, because we want to retain those employees," Phil Pankey said of the Center Point Road location, which opened in 2010. "We've got some great long-time employees there, and it's done well."

Pankey said John Rinderknecht of Denver, Colo., who owns the property for the current Riley's and Wendy's along Center Point Road, approached him about a year ago. Wendy's had a desire to build a new restaurant, a process that would take part of the property Riley's was leasing.

Pankey said several options were discussed, but he said the 45-year-old building was already "tired" and inefficient.

"At the end of the day, we all agreed that it just made sense to start over," Pankey said.

Pankey said the new restaurant on Sylvia Lane will seat approximately 65 people and will resemble the Riley's at 576 Boyson Rd. NE, which opened within the last three months.

Wendy's plans a new 3,950-square-foot restaurant, which will be smaller than the existing building and positioned parallel to Center Point Road NE, according to documents submitted to the city. The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously recommended approving rezoning a section of residential land just east of the Riley's property to commercial use.

A public hearing and first reading of the rezoning ordinance is expected to be held at the April 23 Cedar Rapids City Council meeting.

The current Wendy's restaurant was constructed in 1977, according to the Cedar Rapids Assessor’s office.

In addition to the new Riley's, Pankey said there are plans to build a second Butcher Block location along Boyson Road with construction beginning by the end of the month.

Other Riley's locations could be built in the future, Pankey said.

"Anything is possible," Pankey said. "We'd love to be in Marion and North Liberty. Time is the issue."

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