Lisbon restaurant to close after 41 years in business

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -A restaurant in Lisbon will close after 41 years in business. Gwen’s first opened in 1980, the last day of business will be July 2nd.

Gwen’s is full of memories for owner Gwen Drahos and her family, as well as gifts she’s received over the years from customers.

”That’s what life’s about is people,” she told TV-9.

The restaurant has several regular customers. Truman Jordan of Mount Vernon typically visits at least once a week.

”She’s always made the customers feel at home and she knew everybody and everybody knew Gwen,” Jordan said.

The closure of Gwen’s comes after two restaurants in nearby Mount Vernon have also closed within the last year.

The Iowa Restaurant Association projected 800 restaurants closed across the state during the pandemic and they say inflation and workforce problems could impact another 800.

“We are for the first time every dealing with 15% increases in the cost of labor and simultaneously dealing with a 15% cost of goods increase. There is a threshold for what people will pay for a pizza or sandwich or steak and restaurant and bar owners are worried about raising menu prices beyond that place. This means lower volume restaurants like those found in rural areas will struggle,” Jessica Dunker explained, President of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

Gwen says in her case, it’s just time to slow down. She’s run the restaurant long enough for her children and grandchildren to work there.

”I’ve always wanted to go to Arizona in the winter, so January, February, March I am going to Arizona. But I am still going to do a few banquets and catering,” she said.

Gwen plans to put the building up for sale after she shuts her doors, but says she’s always a phone call away.

”If someone calls and wants chicken noodle soup, I’ll make them chicken noodle soup,” she said.

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