On July 28, KCCI picked up a story listing a location in Clive as one of the top five worst spots to open a restaurant in the country!

Here it is - the building tucked in behind the car wash at 86th and University in Clive:

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The owner blames the former median (which was recently redone with a turn lane to allow automobile access to the site from 86th). A person who works across the street blamed prices and food. City Manager Dennis Henderson thinks perhaps the site would be better utilized as office.

Let me propose the following...

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Last year, I scooped the Des Moines Register (by a day) when I posted about the closing of the Mandarin's Beaverdale location. In that article I wrote:

This is a classic example of where not to locate a restaurant! The building, constructed in the mid 1970s, is situated perpendicular from Beaver so that none of the office spaces face the main street. Rather, they face the parking lot (accessed from Euclid, the side street). There is no planned pedestrian access between the sidewalk and the entrance to the Mandarin restaurant.

This design typology is symptomatic of the automobile era: rather than enhance the pedestrian experience and knit the building into the surrounding residential neighborhood, each building is designed to behave autonomously - as if the only way anyone would ever arrive at the building was by car. It turns its back on the main street, necessitating massive signage to direct cars into its parking lot.

Turns out, you CAN have a successful restaurant at this location - you just need to relocate a loyal customer base from a restaurant formerly situated directly across the street. El Aguila Real seems to be making a pretty good run of it after moving into the vacated Mandarin space. It was packed and steady when we visited for dinner a few days ago.

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After decades of serving Chinese food to Beaverdale and surrounding Des Moines area residents, the Mandarin restaurant will be shutting its doors at this location for good by Christmas. The owners are heading to Taiwan for an extended vacation from Iowa cold, and the restaurant business.

The woman who rang up my carryout last night said they may open another restaurant at a new location, possibly in the Beaverdale area.

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