“The word is ‘Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,’ Let every loyal Iowan sing…” These lyrics are something that Clay Cook, owner of The Front Row, a University of Iowa themed bar, could sing in his sleep.
For the past 12 years, Cook has surrounded himself by everything Hawkeye-themed and he likes it that way. Cook was an ’82 graduate of the University of Iowa and has been collecting Hawkeye memorabilia ever since.
The walls, the light fixtures, the signage and even the bathroom’s hand soap are devoted to the Iowa Hawkeyes. “I have soo many Hawkeye things that we’ve even started putting it on the ceilings just because we have soo much,” said Cook as he pointed to the ceiling of his bar.
The Front Row offers a few unique things that most bars don’t. For starters, Steak Night is on Monday’s and Thursday’s and you get a prime top sirloin steak, baked potato, salad and Texas toast all for only $8! If breakfast is more your dish, come from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday’s and Sunday’s when Cookoffers fresh omelets, biscuits and gravy and French toast for FREE when you buy a Blood Mary. The Front Row serves up a Bloody Mary bar on Saturday and Sunday mornings, which is complete with blue cheese stuffed olives, for only $6.
Another unique thing The Front Row offers is The Front Row Hawkeye club, which has nearly 1,500 members. Being a member of this club will get you a free steak on your birthday, an invite to the monthly Hawkeye Club party, priority seating on Hawkeye bus trips, networking opportunities with other Hawkeye fans and chances to win prizes at The Front Row!
While the Front Row offers a wide array of drinks, Cook’s favorite beverage is the Long Island Ice Tea. Along with the sour mix and soda, Cook makes his drink with 5 liquors, vodka, run, tequila, gin, and triple sec, and then shakes it in a shaker to make sure that the different liquors are thoroughly mixed together. To him, “it just tastes better that way.”
As one can probably image, Iowa Hawkeye football games are a huge event at The Front Row and fans can be found inside at the bar and outside on the patio (which is heated in the winter) during the games. Each booth has a flat screen TV, burgers and brats are served during half time and it’s the place to be if you are an adoring Iowa fan.
The Front Row is a local bar with a “basement feel” that won’t make you pay $7 a drink. As Cook explained to me, “It’s a neighborhood dive bar and it’s a place that everyone feels comfortable.”
Make sure you check out The Front Row on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frontrowbar