Grand opening for The Railyard

Following a brief soft opening in November, The Railyard reopened for the season April 12-14.

The outdoor food venue at 2442 S. Sixth St. is based around shipping containers. It opened Nov. 3 and operated for several weeks before closing for the season. The brick-and-mortar building on site, Zuba’s Café and Creamery, has remained open and serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches and ice cream.

The four shipping containers situated around a 3,000-square-foot outdoor dining space each offer a different menu. El Taco Guapo is a taqueria with a menu similar to the restaurant by the same name at Lake Springfield Marina, and Ernie’s Texas BBQ features Texas-style barbecue with sides such as cowboy beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mac ‘n cheese. Tare Ramen was not part of the initial soft opening but will feature Japanese options including Ramen bowls, sushi and hand-made pot stickers. The fourth container is a patio bar offering beer and wine, along with margaritas.

“We were pleasantly surprised at the initial reception in spite of the cold weather,” owner Kirk Jefferis said of the soft opening last fall. “We’re now planning to have the shipping containers open April through October, and we’re exploring options of how we might be able to extend that timeframe.”

Chef Dave Matthews is a California transplant with a variety of restaurant experience. Matthews currently operates El Taco Guapo at Lake Springfield Marina and was previously involved in 5 Flavors Catering, Finley’s Tap House and Cooper’s Hawk Winery.

“He’s very focused on the quality of the food,” said Jefferis. “Our goal is to offer food that is second-to-none in quality at a casual, family friendly location. We're also pet-friendly, as long as your pet is friendly."

Jefferis noted that the beef used for the barbecue restaurant is “the best we can buy, which is Iowa premium beef.”

In addition to food, live music is planned for each weekend. “We’ve got acts booked all the way through October,” Jefferis said. “And we’ll have open mic nights on a regular basis.”

The shipping container eateries will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., while the café is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.