5 things to know about Lynn Pritchard's 503: A Drink Lab & Tasting Room, opening in Des Moines

·4 min read

Next month, the East Village gains another dining locale from a well-established Des Moines chef.

The chef behind Table 128 plans to open 503: A Drink Lab & Tasting Room in early February.

Here are five things you need to know about the latest restaurant from Lynn Pritchard.

Who is Lynn Pritchard?

Pritchard is the chef and owner behind Table 128, an upscale modern American restaurant focused on seasonal ingredients and artistic presentations. The 10-year-old restaurant recently vacated its original location at 12695 University Ave., Suite 140 in Clive to relaunch as Table 128 2.0 in downtown Des Moines. St. Kilda Café & Bakery took over the Clive space with plans to open in March.

The second iteration of Table 128 is still a work in progress with an uncertain opening date, Pritchard said, which is why 503 is a great opportunity to bring his long-standing staff back to work after closing the doors in Clive in July 2021.

"I'm so excited to work with them again," Pritchard said. "That's why this thing is going to take off, because they get it."

Where will 503: A Drink Lab & Tasting Room go?

This is the third food and drink outlet to take over the 503 E. Locust St. space in the past year. Over the summer, the short-lived Dobré Tasting Room opened in the venue, and most recently, local hospitality group Des Moines Does Things planned to debut the Japanese vinyl lounge Do Not Disturb there.

After pet shop Jett & Monkey's moved out of the space, building owner Loyd Ogle worked with a restaurant consultant to open Dobré Tasting Room in July 2021. Dobré served revived historic dishes from its tiny kitchen, but the project lasted only a few months before shuttering.

Nick Tillinghast, founder of Des Moines Does Things hospitality group, saw an opportunity to open a Japanese-style listening bar in the space and began work on Do Not Disturb. Tillinghast even brought in Gombehr artists Mia and Colin Behr to paint a funky mural similar to the one on the Secret Admirer patio.

However, progress stalled as Tillinghast focused on DMDT's four other locations — Hello, Marjorie; Secret Admirer; Good News, Darling; and Bellhop — and ultimately he decided to release the space to Pritchard, who is taking the design in a different direction.

"I'm excited for Lynn and his team. 503 is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood," Tillinghast said. "The DND concept will stay in my back pocket and be revisited when the timing is better."

More: Des Moines diners are in for a busy spring. Here are 4 new restaurants to check out soon.

What's on the menu?

The new 503 will take on a decidedly more experimental approach than Table 128, Pritchard said. Working out of the small kitchen first installed for Dobré, the 503 kitchen crew will serve casual small plates — perfect for a pre- or post-dinner snack — at a more approachable price point than Table 128.

Savory "ugly doughnuts" are a Table 128 favorite.
Savory "ugly doughnuts" are a Table 128 favorite.

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"We'll have a maximum of nine menu items, two of which will be on the sweet side and the remainder will be savory," Pritchard said. "There are no limits and no definitions; the menu will be changing, seasonal, fun, exciting and very juxtaposed between hot and cooler foods."

Of the seven savory items, two will cross over from the Table 128 menu so 503 visitors can get a taste of what's available across town. Expect to see a fresh menu every one to two weeks.

What will 503 serve for drinks?

Driven by Pritchard's own journey into consuming less alcohol, 503 will serve thoughtful, complex non-alcoholic drinks in addition to a standard cocktails menu.

"The last 12 to 15 years I have just seen those alcohol contents go up and up," Pritchard said. "If you want to be out for an evening, you just can't without drinking a sugar bomb."

The non-alcoholic drinks program will serve as a healthy alternative to the social ritual of casual drinking.

More: Get ready for the five most-anticipated restaurant openings in Des Moines in 2022

When does 503 open?

The new 503 only seats 53 people — considerable for the narrow interior. Diners will have the choice of bar seating, high tops, low tops and an interior dining room for larger parties. However, reservations are off the table.

"I want this to be a very pedestrian locale, and I hope that it's a destination, but I also realize that this is going to be a pre- and post-theater thing," Pritchard said.

He's hoping the cozy quarters and casual seating arrangement inspires a sense of community in the space that will serve from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. or midnight Friday and Saturday.

Mark your calendar and get your first look at the new 503: A Drink Lab and Tasting Room around Feb. 8 or 9.

Elle Wignall covers dining for the Register. Reach her at ewignall@registermedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ElleWignallDMR.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: 503: A Drink Lab & Tasting Room coming to Des Moines' East Village

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