19 mins ago

Axios Des Moines

🥶 It's Thursday. Grab a sweatshirt.

  • This morning's temps are around 45. Highs around 75.

✏️ Situational awareness: Some parents are threatening to pull their children from Ankeny's public school district following a decision that, beginning today, requires mask wearing.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 875 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Filling the restaurant void

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Iowa restaurants continue to struggle with worker shortages, but attracting stay-at-home parents into the industry could give a helping hand to local businesses, according to the Iowa Restaurant Association.

Why it matters: Despite growing customer demand, restaurants aren't able to operate at their full capacity or revenue potential because the staffing isn't there.

  • 50% of Iowa restaurants surveyed by the industry group are reducing hours, and 28% are closing an extra day per week.

What's happening: While worker shortages are affecting businesses across the board, the hospitality industry is still feeling the impact of pandemic furloughs and closures.

  • Many who left ended up finding other work or more consistent hours, like at warehouses, local experts have said.

What they're saying: Lack of child care is a major factor behind why some parents are staying home, but restaurants can offer flexibility that other industries can't, according to the association.

Kelly Vincent is a mom with a more than 20-year restaurant career. She's worked as a server at Bubba in Des Moines for four years.

  • The appeal of her job are the "mom hours," aka lunch shifts from 10am to 3pm, she said. It allows her to drop her children off at school and pick them back up.
  • Shift flexibility is also key. She can work nights while her husband is home or pick up extra hours on weekends if finances are tight.

The bottom line: Vincent said the hours, health care options, paid time off and fair wages are what keep her at Bubba. If restaurants can offer more benefits, they're more likely to retain workers.

  • "It's worked well with having my two little girls," Vincent said.
2. A solution to closed streets

The Pro Iowa Stadium Global Plaza will be a festival hub for Des Moines. Rendering courtesy of Pro Iowa

Tired of special events claiming Des Moines streets and disrupting your commute? You're in luck.

  • Plans for a $84 million professional soccer stadium downtown include a plaza that'll serve as a festival hub and reduce street closures, multiple council members told us yesterday.

Why it matters: If you've driven in DSM recently, you're likely familiar with the inconveniences of being rerouted. But street closures can also cause business disruptions.

By the numbers: Between 2016 and 2019, Des Moines received roughly 200 street closure applications each year, according to city data requested by Axios.

  • Last year's dipped to 99 due to the pandemic.

State of play: Closures for construction are necessary and there's not a whole lot that can eliminate that pain. But the city wants to do better at minimizing disruptions for events, council members Connie Boesen and Josh Mandelbaum told us.

  • Moving many festivities to the Pro Iowa Stadium Global Plaza will help, they said.

Details: Stadium construction will begin in coming months with a projected completion in 2024.

  • The four-acre plaza will surround the stadium and include parking for about 500 vehicles.
  • Restaurants, retail and a hotel will be within walking distance.

What's ahead: Festival relocation plans will be made closer to the plaza's opening. So for now, be patient.

Bonus: Wedding fireworks

Jason didn't ruin Maddie Kirchner and Ryan Klumper's fireworks wedding surprise last week. Photo courtesy of Patrick Kirchner

A wedding fireworks display shut down a ½-mile section of downtown's Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway for about three hours last Friday, which prompted our inquiry into street closures.

Context: Applicant Patrick Kirchner paid $350 in street permit fees, which allowed the display for his daughter's wedding. (Total cost of the fireworks was roughly $3,500, he told Jason.)

  • Kirchner used the same fireworks company as contracted by the Iowa Cubs. The same streets were closed for the display as would be if it were a game night.

One sweet thing: We were initially unable to reach Kirchner and found out after publication last week that the fireworks were a surprise.

  • Fortunately, we didn't use his name in the initial article and the surprise wasn't ruined, he told us. Phew.
3. The Ear: Don't have a corn-ary

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

👩🏻‍⚕️ Caitlin Pedati, Iowa's medical director, is leaving her role "to pursue new career opportunities," state health officials announced yesterday. (AP)

🏥 The Broadlawns Medical Center board will vote today on a new CEO to replace Judy Jenner, who retired in April. (Business Record)

🍪 Insomnia Cookies is opening a DSM location. (Des Moines Register)

A Titan Tire employee was seriously injured after being crushed in a machine at the company's DSM plant Wednesday. (WHO-TV)

🌽Thanks for the ear pun, Andrew O'Connor of Clive.

  • Got a witty pun? Hit reply and share it!
4. DSM's got goat fever

Beer photo courtesy of the city of Clive. Goat photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Des Moines is clicking its cleats for rejecting goats as city staffers, Councilperson Carl Voss tells Jason.

The Clive Greenbelt Goats have become local celebrities, while simultaneously helping manage invasive plants without herbicides.

  • "If Clive can do it, why can't we?" Voss asked.

Flashback: DSM nixed the idea several years ago. Farm animals are generally prohibited from taking residence in DSM.

  • The city tends to live under the same rules, Parks director Ben Page told us.

🐐 State of play: Clive's goat experience has been bucking great.

  • In four years, the herd has quadrupled in size and volunteers help out with some of the work, said Richard Brown, director of Clive's leisure services.
  • Now, metro residents who spot the goats around town try to get selfies. And even swag for the animals has become popular.

What's next: Voss will advocate for goats as next year's budget talks pick up.

Your thoughts: Do you want goats along DSM trails and in city parks? Let us know.

🎁 Goats from the past: Jason's granny gave him a goat as a present for his fifth birthday.

  • Gretchen was sold at a livestock sale later that year. We're hoping she landed a job in Clive.

🚲 Before you go, help build a park. We broke the news yesterday about a plan to build a 50-acre mountain bike park. The Central Iowa Trail Association has set up a donation page for it.

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