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Tin Roost offers new gathering space

Unique food and drinks at an ambitious new North Liberty location
Tin Roost, located on Penn Street, serves American cuisine with a Southern twist. The stylish new restaurant opened in August and now serves lunch and dinner. (photo by Cale Stelken)

NORTH LIBERTY– Take a drive down Penn Street and you’ll quickly notice there’s a new hangout in townas. North Liberty introduces Tin Roost to its growing portfolio of restaurants.
The brand new location on Penn Street is visually impressive. Constructed in July, the modern style building features a bold, black and white rooster emblazoning its front, accented with wood paneling and corrugated steel, a fitting motif of Iowa farm culture.
The interior is just as ambitious. Patrons are invited to a seat at its spacious circular bar or its abundance of booths and tables. Two reservation rooms stand ready to host large parties.
One called “The Coop,” boasts an 80-guest capacity. The private back room offers its own bar, buffet, family-style or plated dining.
“Outside of hotels, there’s not a lot of places for restaurants where you can do a 60 to 80 person event,” Tin Roost Managing Partner Joe Selix explained. “Whether you’re doing a business gathering or a big rehearsal dinner.”
A second room, called the Board Room, seats 20 people at a long table.
The restaurant provides a total seating close to 400, with the inside housing about 260.
Selix, a North Liberty resident and former manager at Blackstone, returned from Denver to take advantage of the exciting new opportunity.
“I loved every bit of it, loved Denver,” Selix recalled. “But coming back to do a restaurant in North Liberty, where it’s growing so quick, it was too hard to pass up.”
Selix is backed by Chef Jeffrey Sills, a former Chicago native who worked in a plethora of kitchens in the Windy City. The experience of which culminated in the menu that is uniquely Tin Roost. But progress didn’t always run so smoothly.
The owners of what was to be named “Tin Rooster” were contacted by a New York restaurant of the same name. The Iowans were asked to change the name of their new business, but as Selix noted, it worked out well, since the goal is to provide the ideal gathering spot, or roost.
The Roost had a quiet opening for evening hours in August, before expanding to include lunch hours the following month.
The owners of Tin Roost chose North Liberty as the home of their business to cater to its growth, providing an exciting new destination to alleviate its role as a bedroom community.
But a restaurant is only as good as its menu which, in the case of Tin Roost, is traditional yet creative.
“We have a strong American menu, but we threw a little bit of a Southern twist on it,” said Selix. Think shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes, and house biscuits. Chef Sills even included a chicken liver pâté from his days in Chicago. Less adventurous patrons can rest assured, however; the Roost offers plenty of Midwestern staples like burgers, salads and chicken wings.
Enthusiasm is evident as Selix describes their focus on local ingredients.
“Iowa has some of the best soil in the world to grow crops in, so we try to source as much stuff as we can locally,” he declared. That means relying on Morgan Creek Farms out of Tiffin.
“They deliver all of our kale, all our tomatoes… All of our eggs are farm-fresh eggs that he picks everyday,” Selix noted.
The restaurant sees this as an important step for his community-oriented business.
“You can order from a food distributor, or you can get it from a farm right down the road, and it’s going to be so much better when it’s fresh,” Selix pointed out. “And being a local place ourselves, with think that’s super important.”
Given the reliance on quality local produce, Selix said they plan to have a seasonal menu.
The Roost’s bar offers signature craft cocktails, as well as drip, French press and nitro coffee from Sparrow Coffee Roastery out of Chicago.
“Twenty-three of 25 Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago carry this coffee, and they don’t let everybody have it,” Selix explained. “We’re the only place in Iowa where you can get this coffee.”
Speaking of drinks, a spacious patio rounds out the Roost with a view of Liberty Center Pond. Equipped with fire pits and nine 65-inch flat-screen TVs, the outdoor space also boasts immediate proximity to North Ridge Trail.
“We built our patio right into the North Liberty bike trail, so you can literally ride your bike right up to our patio from the trail.”
The Roost takes extra steps to cater to Iowa cycling community with their own bike repair station.
“We want to be really bike friendly. Biking is huge in Iowa and we thought it was kind of a unique thing that not a lot of places were offering,” Selix said.
The restaurant recently held a weekend bike route encompassing Backpocket Brewing and the newly introduced Lulu Lemon. Selix plans to host plenty more rides in the future.
With its spacious setting and creative menu, Tin Roost aims to provide North Liberty locals an affordable place to get a meal or relax on the patio with a drink.
“We’re a local restaurant by local people who want to be involved in this community, and we try to do as much stuff sourced locally as possible,” Selix summarized. “So it’s super important for us to be involved in this awesome community.”