Thew Brewing is being reborn with a new name, a slight facelift and a focus on the events and activities that have brought the most success to the Kingston Village venue in southwest Cedar Rapids.
Now operating as The Lucky Cat Comedy & Events, the business will no longer include an on-site brewery. However, live comedy will now become Lucky Cat’s focus, owner Haley Flenker said, representing a shift for the venue that first opened as a microbrewery at 301 Second Ave. SW in March 2018.
“Things were going well for us initially, but the post-pandemic bounceback was not as quick and vibrant as we had hoped it would be,” Ms. Flenker said. “So,we started to look at what we wanted to do and what made sense for us, and what was working really well were events, and comedy in particular.”
About a year ago, the business began hosting open mic events every Tuesday night.
“That took off and became really popular,” Ms. Flenker said. “We have a really good community of comics. And we started booking shows a lot more regularly, sometimes three or four weekends a month. So, for us, when we started re-evaluating what we wanted to do and what makes sense for us today, we kept coming back to ‘comedy is working really well, let’s roll with this.’”
As part of that focus, Ms. Flenker hopes to refill the live comedy niche that was largely left empty when Penguins Comedy Club closed in early 2020, with a mix of local, regional and national performers.
“Building the comedy community here is really important to me,” she said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about. So, in addition to the stand-up, we’ll be bringing in acts from out of town and doing more local comic feature shows. Our open mic will continue, but we’ll also be adding some stand-up and improv comedy. We really want to foster the comedy community and get people who weren’t interested in performing before to give it a try.”
Some subtle renovations have been made in the transition to The Lucky Cat, with a new performance stage being the most visible change. The venue will now seat approximately 80 patrons, a slight increase from its previous configuration.
While live comedy will be a primary focus, other events will be featured regularly at The Lucky Cat, including yoga classes on Sunday mornings, weekly pub trivia on Sunday nights, monthly “Cork ‘N’ Canvas” events, salsa dance lessons on the last Wednesday of each month, on-site pottery classes conducted by the Ceramics Center of Iowa, and periodic drag shows, featuring “Drag Bingo” events hosted by local drag performer Lexi Belle.
The venue’s on-site brewery will be replaced by a broad selection of tap beers, many of which will be Iowa-based craft brews. The bar will provide a full selection of cocktails and mocktails, including mules and sipping liquors, canned and bottled beers, seltzers and wine. A special lavender lemonade, available with or without alcohol, is a tribute to Lexi Belle and the bar’s longstanding support of the LGBTQ+ community.
A small food menu is also in development, and Ms. Flenker said she plans to open The Lucky Cat for private event rentals, from business events to sit-down dinners, with custom menu catering provided by Chophouse Downtown. Entertainment options will also be available for those events, she said.
Community support is also important to the venue’s business model.
“Our commitment to community lives on,” The Lucky Cat notes on its website. “We operated Thew Brewing with a focus on giving back and raised thousands of dollars for community causes like the Tanager Place LGBTQ+ Youth Center, Willis Dady Homeless Services, Together We Achieve, Cedar Rapids Pride, derecho relief efforts and many others. We are carrying this spirit into The Lucky Cat.”
The Thew Brewing name – “Thew” is a Middle English word meaning “strength and vitality” – has been retired, but Ms. Flenker said she believes luck will be on the side of the business’ transition to its new vision.
“It was bittersweet to close (the brewery) part of the business,” she said. “We worked really hard at it, and it was important to us. But we have a solid plan for the future, and we’re excited to see where it takes us.”
Check it out
For more information and an updated schedule of events, check out The Lucky Cat online at theluckycatcr.com.