Iconic A&W Restaurant in Cedar Rapids knocked down 5 years after - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iconic A&W Restaurant in Cedar Rapids knocked down 5 years after flooding

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The A&W Family Restaurant was the final standing drive-in restaurant in Cedar Rapids. Following the floods of 2008, a lot of people fought to save it.

On Wednesday, those dreams were destroyed.

The restaurant was built more than 50 years ago. Many people in Cedar Rapids have fond memories of going there. They say when the A&W opened for the year, you knew summer was just around the corner.

Cyd Johnson used to go to the restaurant with her friends. She also got her first job there as a fry cook.

"It's sad because everything of my childhood is or has been torn down," said Johnson. "I grew up on Ellis Boulevard."

Johnson, and several other people, came out to see the building get knocked down and take some final pictures. 

"It was a big family place," said Dave Watson. "You'd come here after the football games. You'd come here after graduation. The place to come on a hot Saturday night before you went to the park. The place to come get a root beer float and have a good meal."

Rolfes works down the street and used to make trips to the A&W with her co-workers, trips since missed since the floods.

"I just needed to see it," said Lisa Rolfes. "It's more of a sentimental thing because I know if I didn't come now, when I get off work today it's going to be gone. A piece of history is getting buried right behind us."

The city worked to find a developer to renovate the building but didn't have any luck.

Now the city is moving forward with plans to name Ellis Boulevard a Viable Business District. That's a statewide designation that will allow new construction in the 100-year flood plain. Cedar Rapids already has two Viable Business Districts, around First Street Downtown and the Kingston Village neighborhood where developers hope to build a casino. They plan to name Ellis as a new district this fall.

"It's such a prime intersection," said Chuck Swore, Cedar Rapids City Council. "It's going to get revitalized."

Neighbors like Johnson hope that's true.

"I hope they do something with it," said Johnson. "It's so barren. It's saddening"

One piece of the beloved restaurant will be saved. The iconic A&W sign will go to the Carl and Mary Koehler History Center.

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