It’s a little sad when being in Des Moines seems like being on vacation, but I’m a native. I can handle it. By the way, all you people from Chicago suburb number 2,995,092 do not get to make jokes about how boring Des Moines is. I come from a city and you come from a suburb. So there.
That said, Des Moines is becoming more and more like Iowa City. The once-deserted downtown is beginning to feature the kind of restaurants and bars that a city center desperately needs. Apartment buildings and upscale shops are blooming in previously seedy areas of the East Village, near the state capitol. The one catalyst downtown Des Moines really needs for a serious boom is a grocery store.
Which is precisely what downtown Iowa City is losing. Tait’s Natural Foods will be closing soon, and I’ll be watching it go with mixed feelings. I’d have appreciated the undoubted convenience of a grocery store within walking distance a lot more if I’d been able to afford the switch to all-natural, free-range macaroni and cheese. (Yeah, I can just see it too: paper packets of suspiciously orange cheese-powder roaming happily across grassy plains. But I digress.)
The problem was that pretty much the only people who could afford Tait’s were the people who live in that same glossy high-rise that juts incongruously from the intersection of Linn and College streets. So, in response to the general indifference that the rest of the downtown residents accorded it, Tait’s is going to fold. That’s too bad, but I’d bet anything that it wouldn’t have happened if they’d recognized that their customer base needed to be bigger than the building.