The Garrison, 131 W. 2nd St., Davenport, in the historic Redstone Building, is the newest high-end, sophisticated bar and restaurant in the Quad Cities.
The Quad Cities Chamber held a ribbon-cutting for the new business (formerly occupied by tacobar) in the 1892 home of Common Chord and Zeke’s Island Café at 2nd and Main streets.
Opening formally on Saturday, Oct. 14, The Garrison hours are Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), with the posh, private Speakeasy (in the back of the building) open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said they were standing at the city’s “ground zero,” the birthplace “of the modern renaissance of downtown Davenport.”
In 2000, “this community had the guts to pass its largest referendum in the city’s history, River Renaissance, it literally created and renovated the building we’re standing in,” he said of the former River Music Experience, which opened in 2004.
“We built the Figge Art Museum, we built the Skybridge, we built two parking ramps and the New Ventures Center,” Carter said. “All of that began here in the building we’re standing in.”
“It’s very full circle to me to stand here in 2023, in a beautifully renovated space, and it is spectacular to see this level of commitment from all of you,” he said. “We have had so much success in development that we’re rebuilding things that we rebuilt. That is exactly what we should be doing; that’s the sign of a healthy community. I’m deeply proud to be part of this event.”
“I’m thankful for the city for being such good partners,” Carter said. “It takes a village.”
“If 2nd and Main Street ain’t healthy, then Davenport ain’t healthy,” he added. “This real estate where we’re standing must succeed and I can’t imagine it won’t when it looks like this.”
Jonathan Newman, The Garrison executive chef, is a 2002 Davenport North alum, who worked in other cities 14 years, including in Europe, and restaurants up and the East Coast. He worked at Alinea in Chicago, and last opened Tattersall in Minneapolis, an 89,000-square-foot restaurant and distillery.
“I got to come home, my whole family is here,” Newman said. “Downtown Davenport is gorgeous, and coming home, Brandon gave me a great opportunity. Working together, it’s been great. We were both on the same page.”
“We are a 1920s, aged steakhouse, but we’re also a fusion restaurant,” he said. “We’ve got sweet beet mashed potatoes with pork chop, fried kale – we’re a lot of fusion-based food. It’s lot of sweetness of Asia, mixed with European food and American stuff. The bar is amazing.”
The restaurant website says: “With an unwavering commitment to excellence, his team consistently pushes the boundaries of the culinary world and elevates the Quad Cities’ foodie landscape to new heights.
“Everything is top-notch,” Newman said.
The Garrison co-owner Brandon Albertson also co-owns Brandon’s Pub & Grille at 3008 7th Ave., Rock Island.
The name of the new restaurant honors the Army garrison at Rock Island Arsenal, protecting patrons’ right to eat and drink during Prohibition (the place’s theme) and Albertson’s father served in the Army 23 years.
Most of Brandon’s experience is in marketing and advertising, and he wanted to get into restaurants. He opened the Rock Island pub business in 2019.
“It’s been a nice run. I’m a quick study,” Albertson said. “I like the chaos of it; that sounds pretty sick. But it’s nice chaos, which is the best way to put it. I like the challenge of it. It’s like when we get to launch something of this magnitude.
“I like to wake up every day, knowing I’m gonna have something big in front of me to try and tackle,” he said. The renovations took nine months (done by Estes Construction, also based in the building), after the space was purchased a year ago.
“Here’s what we are good at it – we’re good at operating and logistics,” Albertson said of he and his partner. Why can’t we execute at the highest level, so that’s where we’re at. Let’s challenge ourselves.”
The Garrison has about 90 employees, including six bakers, who make bread fresh every morning, he said. “This place smells like a fresh bakery when you walk in. Everything is made from scratch — to include the bread your burgers come on, to your handhelds, to all your Parker rolls that get served to you for your dinner, they’re all made homemade.
“All of your desserts are homemade; all your sauces are homemade,” Albertson said. “That was all by design. My partners and I, we’re all foodies. We love food. If we wouldn’t serve it to our families, we wouldn’t serve it to yours. That’s our mantra.”
He wants the place to be the destination for people before and after shows like at the Redstone Room in the building, or nearby restored Capitol Theatre. The Speakeasy (which requires a password for entrance, and will be posted on The Garrison social media) has a book-lined wall that leads to restrooms in the common area of Common Chord (the speakeasy entrance itself is off the cleaned alley from the parking garage next to the Skybridge).
“This as you come in the door and see the atmosphere is special,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said Friday of The Garrison. “It’s just another great thing that Davenport and the Quad Cities is doing, to expand and quite frankly, explode the excitement that’s going on.”
In the last two years alone, Davenport has seen over 400 new business licenses, including over 75 in the downtown, Matson said. “It’s exciting. It’s the momentum and positive things that are happening…I love the word ‘garrison’; I am a military person. It’s inviting, bringing folks around here, to enjoy a drink, enjoy a meal in an environment that’s so inviting.”
“We’re excited to have more activity in the Redstone Building with the new restaurant and bar, joining Zeke’s Island Cafe, Common Chord programs, and the other building tenants,” said Tyson Danner, executive director of Common Chord.
“The Garrison’s investment in creating another high-quality amenity in the core of downtown will continue to advance the progress that has been made in the heart of downtown Davenport at the Redstone Building,” he said. “The renovations in The Garrison are looking top-notch, and we’re looking forward to their opening day.”
For the menu and more information, visit The Garrison website HERE.