WATERLOO — He opened his namesake restaurant in 2016 with an ambitious menu and even-more-ambitious live music schedule.
But Bryan Sink admits he couldn’t make the financial side of his downtown Waterloo business work.
Sink closed Bryan’s on Fourth and its basement counterpart, the Limestone Lounge, on Saturday, citing a “devastatingly slow” July from which he couldn’t recover.
“It is a very sad message, but we have closed our doors,” Sink wrote in a post to the restaurant’s Facebook page Tuesday.
The restaurant and bar, which replaced Cu Restaurant and The Cellar, combined Sink’s passions of food and music. A chef and musician inspired by open mic nights at next door’s Jameson’s Public House, Sink vowed to operate his business with those twin passions in mind.
“We opened Bryan’s on Fourth over two years ago with the hope and dream of becoming a premier destination restaurant and entertainment venue,” Sink wrote. “To a degree, the dream came true.”
In the post, Sink spoke about his restaurant’s good reviews on a number of customer review websites, and spoke approvingly of the live music Limestone Lounge regularly hosted, including Iowa Hall of Fame musician Bob Dorr of Cedar Falls.
Many of those musicians and regulars posted their reactions to the restaurant and bar’s closing this week.
“I am sad that Bryan and Corrie have done everything right and wind up not being able to continue on to fulfilling their dream,” Dorr wrote in a post to Facebook on Sunday. “I will miss the ‘Cheers’-like interaction with all Limestoner regulars.”
It’s the second East Fourth Street restaurant in downtown Waterloo to close this week; Boardwalk Deli announced plans to close Friday.
“They both brought something unique to the downtown area and they will be truly missed by everybody,” said Jessica Rucker, executive director of Main Street Waterloo. “Everybody is working to try to find a way to have them live on in some way, whether it’s new ownership or management.”
WATERLOO — Boardwalk Deli on East Fourth Street in downtown Waterloo will close for good on Friday.
Sink noted in his post that he was working to transfer his catering events and didn’t yet have a plan for outstanding gift cards. He said the month of July was tough financially.
“We were put in a deep hole,” he said. “The beginning of August saw great improvement, but not enough. About a week ago, the writing was on the wall and we were forced to admit defeat (and) set a closing day.”
He thanked the building’s owner, JSA, the city of Waterloo and his staff.
“I do not know what the future holds for my family, but I do remain committed to the vast possibilities afforded by Waterloo,” he said. “It has been remarkable to see the growth and virtual awakening of this great city.”
Sink couldn’t be reached for further comment Thursday.
The restaurant and basement-level bar was in the Steely Block building, built in 1902 by John M. Steely as an example of early 20th-century classical revival, and the main floor was renovated by JSA in 2004.
Joni and Mike Hollen opened up Cu Restaurant and, below, The Cellar lounge and bar, in 2004. The Hollens gave their restaurant to Mark Widmann in 2010, who transferred it back to JSA in 2015.
Sink opened Bryan's in July of 2016 and went to work revamping the menu, updating the interior and reopening as Bryan’s on Fourth and Limestone Lounge.
“Honestly, I think we’re due for a renaissance,” Sink told The Courier at the time. “This is where I want to be; I feel welcome in downtown.”
He kept most of Cu’s existing staff and had regular updates to the restaurant’s menu. Downstairs, he installed a stage and sound system for regular live music, sometimes every night of the week.
Sink thought of the live music and the art on the walls as just as integral as his ever-changing menu.
“My entire life has been a complete immersion in those three facets of life,” Sink told The Courier in a 2016 article.
Previously, Sink was a chef at the University Avenue Hy-Vee, which closed in March of this year, and worked as a chef in his own restaurant in Arkansas. He previously told The Courier he was raised in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, and returned to the area to take care of his mother.
This article has been updated to correct information related to the transfer of ownership of the Steely Block in the early 2010s.