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Railroad-Themed Taproom, Three Restaurants, and Boutique Picked for Altoona Container Park

Monday, May 1, 2023
Tom Giffey | VolumeOne

Altoona City Council announces winners of 'Think Inside the Box' Challenge

The upcoming downtown Altoona container park development, now dubbed "The Yard," will host five small businesses, including three eateries, a taproom, and a clothing boutique, the City of Altoona announced Monday.

Earlier this year, the City of Altoona solicited ideas from entrepreneurs as part of the Inside the Box Challenge in the hopes of filling the forthcoming park, which could open as early as this fall on Division Street. A panel of local businesspeople and the Altoona City Council interviewed a group of applicants on April 18, listened to their business pitches, and chose five winners who the city will begin lease negotiations with. According to a media release, they are:

Iron Horse Saloon owned by Mark and Hope Anderson, will operate a taproom at the Yard. According to their business plan, the Andersons will apply over 24 years of experience running and managing taverns and restaurants, as well as managing events, to activate the space and bring people to the Yard who enjoy being outdoors and enjoy live entertainment.

Beast & Bonito owned by Evan Mowry. According to his business plan, Mowry is looking at serving pan-Asian-inspired food to enjoy in the park and for pick-up. The Beast & Bonito menu will include scratch-made ramen, rice bowls, such as donburi and bibimbap, appetizers, and creative side dishes.

Ne-Ne Taco's owned by Rene & Rhoda Perez. According to their business plan, the Perezes will offer authentic Mexican food, including burritos, street tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and amazing queso with freshly made tortilla chips.

EJ 2 owned by Cara Yang. According to Yang's business plan, the restaurant will be a seafood boil Asian-inspired restaurant with an influence intertwined with various Asian-inspired sauces, including Asian-Cajun seafood house, house garlic sauce, and Hmong hot pepper. Formerly the family operated Eau Juicy, and this would be a return of that experience.

Coulee Boutique owned by Anna Ledebuhr. According to Ledebuhr's business plan, Coulee Boutique will be a unique women's boutique that sells clothing and accessories while offering personal care and gift items."

The city had an excellent field of applicants, and we are excited to get the entrepreneurs together to work towards finalizing plans for activating the container park," said Mike Golat, Altoona's city administrator. "One of the lenses in the city's Comprehensive Plan is economic sustainability; hence the city is excited to offer this unique opportunity to entrepreneurs to help strengthen our downtown business district."

The Yard will be created out of repurposed shipping containers on formerly blighted downtown property with the help of a $1.38 million Neighborhood Investment Grant Program from the state of Wisconsin. The city's goal is to complete the development by either this fall or the spring of 2024.

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