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Ladora Bank To Reopen As Caucus Bistro

A new restaurant will help keep a historic building open in one Iowa small town, after a well-loved bistro closed down earlier this year.

Diners would travel from miles and even states away to eat at the Ladora Bank Bistro, a white-table cloth joint tucked into a nearly one hundred year old building. With the original marble, chandeliers and teller cage still in place, the bistro developed a reputation as a romantic destination known for its spread of cheese boards, local sausuges and bacon-wrapped scallops.

When the chef and business owner closed down the restuarant this February, it wasn't clear what was next for the building.

But now a new restaurant is opening up, called Caucus Bistro, led by the building's owner Dimitri Makedonsky. He first came upon the building while riding through town on a motorcycle in 2004 and spent years renovating it. 

He says he's thought on and off for years about opening a restaurant that revolves around the state's signature political event. Now he's decided the historic bank in the small community of about 270 people is the place to do it. 

“Iowa plays that big, that major role and why not celebrate it? And long after the caucuses are over this year and 2020, in January when they all go away and head off to New Hampshire, Caucus Bistro still has a story to tell about Iowa and our political heritage,” he said.

Makedonsky is redecorating the place with caucus memorabilia and campaign photos, like one of then-candidate Jimmy Carter at the Iowa State Fair.   

“And if you look at the crowd, I’m sure there’s going to be people coming into the Bistro saying ‘oh my gosh, there I am, or there’s my uncle, or there’s my mom holding me as a baby 45 or 50 years ago'," he said. "So I’m looking forward to getting people’s reactions when they come in.”

Makedonsky and chef Scott Sukovich are fine-tuning a menu that will celebrate Iowa's first in the nation status, featuring plates like the Incumbent, the Dark Horse and Lame Duck. 

While some may see a night out as a break from the political news cycle, Makedonsky says the Caucuses, and people who obsess over them, deserve to have a place of their own.

"As far as I'm concerned Iowa is famous for two things: Dan Gable and the Iowa Caucuses. And I just feel that...Dan Gable has his museum, we don't really have anything to celebrate the Caucuses," Makedonsky said. "The bistro would be a perfect setting."

And between his politics and those of Chef Sukovich, Makedonsky says they're already building some bipartisan concensus. They plan to open Caucus Bistro in May.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter